The arguments on Facebook regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s announcement that she was running for president began politely at first but slowly grew more vitriolic with each back and forth. Eventually, Madison Payne, a 27-year-old from Tyler, Tex., had had enough. So she took revenge against the Clinton opponents, simply clicking “unfollow.” “If I see somebody that is just so hateful, then of course I’m going to unfollow them,” said Ms. Payne, whose “friend” count on Facebook has dwindled since Mrs. Clinton’s announcement. “I’ve lost touch with many great childhood friends of mine due to social media providing a platform for political discussion.”
With the presidential race heating up, a torrent of politically charged commentary has flooded Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, with some users deploying their “unfollow” buttons like a television remote to silence distasteful political views. Coupled with the algorithm now powering Facebook’s news feed, the unfollowing is creating a more homogenized political experience of like-minded users, resulting in the kind of polarization more often associated with MSNBC or Fox News. And it may ultimately deflate a central promise of the Internet: Instead of offering people a diverse marketplace of challenging ideas, the web is becoming just another self-perpetuating echo chamber.