Sunday April 30, 2017

Bridging the political divide online

"Pop Your Bubble" is a Facebook extension that allows Americans to peek across the political divide, so to speak.

"Pop Your Bubble" is a Facebook extension that allows Americans to peek across the political divide, so to speak.

Listen 8:41

It's no secret that we live in a politically divided world.

Back when most of us got our news by spreading out the newspaper on our kitchen table, we would see columns by writers whose opinions we couldn't stand.

We might not read those columns, but at least we saw they were there. We were exposed to them.

Now, in a world dominated not by print media but by social media, we build silos. Cushy echo chambers where the only viewpoints we're exposed to are those that match our own.

And that, many people would agree, is a terrible thing. And something that's gone way too far.

The good news is that now some of the major media organizations around the world, like the Guardian and the New York Times, are trying to curate opposite-opinion lists for their readers.

And even Facebook itself this week announced an initiative to try to break down those self-imposed silos.

But among the more interesting attempts to cross political divides comes from… a snack bar company?

KIND, a company best known for energy bars, has launched an initiative called called "Pop Your Bubble," and it's a Facebook extension that allows Americans to peek across the divide, so to speak.

But why is a snack bar company taking this on?

354 Elle Lanning

Elle Lanning

Elle Lanning, the company's head of corporate development, says it comes from the founder's experience of the son of Holocaust survivors -- it made him understand the danger that political division creates.

Pop Your Bubble is a Facebook extension -- for Americans only, for now -- that examines your profile and chooses people to follow who have differing opinions and experience.

It will match urban people with rural, and Fox News watchers with MSNBC fans.

"It's turning the algorithm upside down," Elle says.

She's hoping the initiative at least causes people to consider that there are people who don't see the world the same way they do.

Although she acknowledges it may cause people to have more arguments than less, it's worth the try, she says. "Otherwise there will be no change."