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KIND Foundation Launches Digital Tool to Bridge Social Divides, Develop Greater Empathy
April 21, 2017
New research by Morning Consult has revealed that only one-in-five adults surround themselves with people who share different perspectives and ideas, underscoring the severity of the “filter bubble” and the extent to which algorithms dictate the information we are exposed to online. With the launch of Pop Your Bubble — a new digital tool designed to connect Facebook users with people who are different than them — The KIND Foundation, a nonprofit established by KIND Healthy Snacks, is challenging consumers to step outside their comfort zones and change their perspectives.
Instead of guiding users to content that aligns with their interests or past activity, Pop Your Bubble scans a user’s Facebook profile and activity and suggests people and profiles whose activities are least like theirs. Users are matched based on differences across key demographics, such as location and age, and dissimilarity of likes and content shared Users are then prompted to follow at least 10 new people whose posts will subsequently appear in their feed. Those who want to go a step further can add their profile and allow future users to follow them.
business and empathy
“In developing the Pop Your Bubble algorithm, we took into account a variety of factors that shape someone’s point of view, including where they live, when they were born and the information they choose to subscribe to. Our tool intentionally matches people on a broader basis than politics alone to better account for the whole of who they are,” said Elle Lanning, an advisor at The KIND Foundation. “Using the tool may prove uncomfortable for some, as they will be confronted with ideas and opinions that diverge from their own. But we’re hopeful that with discomfort comes an opportunity for greater understanding.”
In light of the current atmosphere in the U.S., politics will undoubtedly have a strong influence on the algorithm. But according to Morning Consult’s research, most people don’t consider politics as one of the top traits that define who they are, with the majority of adults identifying first as friends, spouses or partners and parents. Greater exposure to the various aspects of other people’s lives may help increase empathy and bridge divides.
According to Robb Willer, a professor of sociology and psychology specializing in the forces that united and divide us at Stanford University suggests that engaging with those with opposing viewpoints is healthy, a critical part of being an engaged citizen.
“I believe it’s important to pay attention to other viewpoints because it ensures your own views are fully informed and allows you to pay a basic respect to your fellow citizens,” said Willer. “This initiative may be part of a better way to move forward — a way that emphasizes working on common concerns with respect rather than antagonism or anger.”
“The polarization we’ve been witnessing over the last few years — and in an accelerated fashion over the last few months — prompted this initiative. People are having difficulty being exposed to other perspectives, let alone being able to see the world through a different prism,” said Daniel Lubetzky, President of The KIND Foundation and Founder and CEO of KIND. “We’re hopeful that those who use our tool will develop greater empathy towards one another — something we believe is critical to uniting our country and strengthening our world.”