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Mobile social media is affecting diversity in emerging markets

Mobile social media is affecting diversity in emerging markets

A study from Pew Research Centre has looked at the impact of mobile technology and social media, and how it affects emerging markets.

The study, conducted by a "nonpartisan fact tank", surveyed users in 11 economically emerging markets. Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, South Africa, Kenya, India, Vietnam, The Philippines, Tunisia, Jordan, and Lebanon.

It concluded that "those who use social media are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds and more connected with friends they don’t see in person. Those with smartphones are also more likely to have accessed new information about health and government services".

The globalisation of markets, it states, is aided by the rise in technology and social media, and the study emphasises the aid of technology for socio-economic developments.

"A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person."

Muffling the echo chamber

The report refers to the median as "stastical modeling" due to the numerous other factors that would affect individual use of smartphones and social media, such as age, education and sex.

In addition, the report states that those from emerging markets, using social media, are more likely to to be exposed with, and engage with, different cultures, religions, political parties, or incomes. With 57 per cent of Mexican smartphone users regulary interacting with people of other religions, compared to 62 per cent of users without a smartpone who do not interact with opposing views.

This would juxtapose the concept of "echo chambers", a concept that polarising views are exaggerated online, where users do not seek further information, than what they read online.

In March 2019, Dr Grant Blank was interviewed following a report published by the Oxford Internet Institute titled "The myth of the echo chamber". In the conducted interview with the BBC, Dr Blank responded to the claim that social media fuels a limited perception of society.

"You can find a relationship between social media and political polarisation if you look only at social media. If you look, in other words, at Twitter or you look only at Facebook. But in a complex, multi-media environment - which is the way people live now because of the internet - you don't find that, you find people consuming a lot of media," Blank said.

This echoes the report published by Pew Research Centre, highlighting the social-economic benefits for emerging markets.

 


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