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The latest study from Pew Research Center takes a look at the impact mobile technology, including the use of smartphones and social media, is having on the diversity of people’s social network in emerging markets. For the purpose of the study, Pew surveyed mobile users in eleven key markets: Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa, Kenya, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Tunisia, Jordan, and Lebanon. It found that users in these markets had broader social networks than those without smartphones and social media.
In the U.S., we’ve been concerned with social media’s ability to create “filter bubbles” — meaning how we surround ourselves online with people who hold the same opinions as us, which is then reinforced by social media’s engagement-focused algorithms. This leads us to believe, sometimes in error, that what we think is the most correct and most popular view.
Pew - Study - Markets - Phenomenon
According to Pew’s study, emerging markets are experiencing a somewhat different phenomenon.
Instead of isolation, the study found that smartphone users in these markets, and particularly those who also used social media, were more regularly exposed to people with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different religious preferences, different political parties, and different income levels, compared to those without a smartphone.
Mexico - Example - % - Smartphone - Owners
In Mexico, for example, 57% of smartphone owners regularly interacted with people of other religions, while only 38% of those without a smartphone did. And more than half (54%) interact with people who supported different political parties. They were also 24% more like to interact with people of different income levels, and 17% more likely to interact with people of different ethnic or racial backgrounds.
These sorts of trends help up across the nations studied, Pew noted, with a median of 66% saying they interacted with people with different income levels, 51% saying they interacted with a those of different race or ethnicity, 50% saying...
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