From echo chambers to context collapse and back: new work

June 15, 2024
Department for Theoretical Philosophy & CELFIS, University of Bucharest

'Tudor Vianu' hall
Splaiul Independentei nr. 204
Bucharest 060024

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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This event is available both online and in-person


University of Richmond
University of Bucharest
Humboldt-University, Berlin


University of Bucharest

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Social media has become an almost ubiquitous presence in our lives, shaping how we engage with information, communicate with others, and, more broadly, interact with the world at large.

Out of all the phenomena that emerge from the interactions of agents on this digital landscape, two are of particular interest. Echo-chambers are a type of social epistemic network that actively isolates agents found within it from others outside of it. This can lead to development of various practices meant to reinforce isolation, such as dog-whistling. The effects of this on knowledge sharing and belief formation are complex and difficult to characterize.

On the opposite side, a paradigm case of context-collapse would be the posting of a message intended for the posters’ close friends on a board that is accessible to his family members. As such, the context-sensitive elements of the message will be worked out on different common grounds. This seems to be a by-product of the design of social media platforms, but it seems like it can lead to many epistemic benefits. Leaking and hacking do sometimes provide agents with important knowledge that would have been otherwise kept hidden.

Prima facie, these phenomena seem to be incompatible: presumably echo-chambers guard against context-collapse. But there are reasons to think otherwise. Moreover, the complex world of social media communication and information sharing is characterized by a lot more parameters than offline epistemic networks.

Anonymity and gamification are especially worth thinking about. In addition, quantitative changes to the speed that information reaches the agents in a network do seem to qualitatively transform the reliability of certain epistemic processes. With this conference we are interested in presentations that tackle the many problems of the emergent social-epistemic and communicational phenomena of social media.

We aim to bring together students and researchers in social epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of technology, and cognitive science. When submitting an abstract, consider the following questions:

●    How can these echo-chambers and context-collapse co-exist on social media platforms? How best to describe their functions and interactions?

●    What are the best epistemic practices that maximize the formation of reliable beliefs on social media?

●    What are the underlying cognitive processes that drive the formation of echo-chambers?

●    How can anonymity reinforce or undermine echo-chamber formation?

●    Could a gamified design of a social media platform incentivize the widening of one’s epistemic network?

●    Are there discernible differences in attention or memory among agents with social media based epistemic networks, as compared with offline ones?

●    Can we identify specific patterns of behavior and communicative practices that emerge as a consequence of prolonged exposure to social media?

●    Are agents who exhibit self-awareness regarding their usage patterns and behaviors on social media more likely to resist being trapped in echo-chambers? 

The conference will take place 15th June 2024 in 'Tudor Vianu' hall of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Bucharest. It will have a hybrid event.

Here is the tentative schedule:

12:15-12:45    Sandra-Cătălina Brânzaru, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Philosophy,  PhD student,     “Social media and context (or narrative)-collapse”

12:50-13:20    Andrija Šoć & Tamara Trutnovski Kočović,  Research Fellow, University of Belgrade & M.D., Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, “The impact of individuals’ uncritical trust on the formation of epistemic bubbles and group polarization”

13:25-13:55    Luca Ausili, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Department of Philosophy, PhD student, “Echo chambers as decisional patterns”

14:00-14:30    Will Cailes, University of Arizona, “Theoretically Good but Practically Bad Epistemic Bubbles”

14:35-15:05    Tailine Hijaz, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil, and University of Vechta, Germany, Philosophy Department, PhD student, “What would an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher have to say about Big Techs, bots, epistemic bubbles, and echo chambers? Hume, factions, and the digital age”

15:10-15:40    H. Bondurant, University of Richmond, Philosophy and PPEL, Visiting Assistant Professor, “The Dangers of Social Media Epistemic Bubbles”

16:20-17:20    keynote address, Romy Jaster, Humboldt University, “Dependence and Diversity in Echo Chambers”

The conference is organized with the support of graduate students in the “Mind the Brain” master’s program at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest. More details about the programme are available here:

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June 10, 2024, 11:00pm EET

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University of Bucharest
University of Boras
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Custom tags:

#echo chamber, #context collapse