(CNN) On the surface, it seems like social media has the boundless potential to expand our world, connecting us to ideas and people we otherwise would never have found. However, a new study claims just the opposite: Social media actually isolates us, creating and facilitating confirmation biases and echo chambers where old — and sometimes erroneous — information is just regurgitated over and over again.

If it sounds bleak, it’s because it kind of is.
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using data modeling, a team of researchers from Italy mapped the spread of two types of content: conspiracy theories and scientific information.

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Even if you pride yourself on avoiding misinformation and think you’re having open, accepting conversations online, Bessi cautions that we’re all subject to confirmation bias on some level.
“If we see something that confirms our ideas, we are prone to like and share it. Moreover, we have limited cognitive resources, limited attention, and a limited amount of time.”
This can lead to reckless sharing — we sometimes share something without really examining what it is.
“For example, I may share a content just because it has been published by a friend that I trust and whose opinions are close to mine,” Bessi says.
In the future, Bessi says, there may be programs or algorithms that can help clean up misinformation. For now, he recommends a more analog approach: Do your own fact-checking — and soul-searching — before you share.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/22/health/facebook-study-narrow-minded-trnd/index.html

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