I Want to Break Free! Recommending Friends from Outside the Echo Chamber


Recommender systems serve as mediators of information consumption and propagation. In this role, these systems have been recently criticized for introducing biases and promoting the creation of echo chambers and filter bubbles, thus lowering the diversity of both content and potential new social relations users are exposed to. Some of these issues are a consequence of the fundamental concepts on which recommender systems are based on. Assumptions like the homophily principle might lead users to content that they already like or friends they already know, which can be naïve in the era of ideological uniformity and fake news. A significant challenge in this context is how to effectively learn the dynamic representations of users based on the content they share and their echo chamber or community interactions to recommend potentially relevant and diverse friends from outside the network of influence of the users’ echo chamber. To address this, we devise FRediECH (a Friend RecommenDer for breakIng Echo CHambers), an echo chamber-aware friend recommendation approach that learns users and echo chamber representations from the shared content and past users’ and communities’ interactions. Comprehensive evaluations over Twitter data showed that our approach achieved better performance (in terms of relevance and novelty) than state-of-the-art alternatives, validating its effectiveness.

RecSys ‘21: Fifteenth ACM Conference on Recommender Systems September 2021 Pages 23–3 https://doi.org/10.1145/3460231.3474270