According to our calculations, Facebook (and its subproperties, which just so happen to include Instagram), reaches about one third of the world鈥檚 total population. It鈥檚 a huge number, to be sure, and according to recent findings, it鈥檚 also a concerning one 鈥 particularly with regard to the more highly charged political climate.

Young woman using laptop, social media, internet.

In a just-published study entitled, 鈥淭he Spreading of Misinformation Online,鈥 researchers found that our modern-day life of online networking isn鈥檛 really doing us any favors when it comes to expanding our horizons. In fact, it鈥檚 acting as an 鈥渆cho chamber鈥 to reinforce our long-held beliefs 鈥 even when they鈥檙e dead wrong 鈥 further ingraining falsehoods and questionable thoughts into our brains.

According to the researchers, that鈥檚 because we鈥檙e basically only taking in the things we want to hear 鈥 which incidentally, also happen to usually consist of things we already think and believe. 鈥淥ur findings show that users mostly tend to select and share content related to a specific narrative and to ignore the rest,鈥 they state in their paper. 鈥淚n particular, we show that social homogeneity is the primary driver of content diffusion, and one frequent result is the formation of homogenous, polarized clusters.鈥 That social homogeneity they鈥檙e talking about? That鈥檚 the 鈥渉ive-mind.鈥

Group of mixed race people looking at mobile phones outdoors in the park

It鈥檚 a finding that echoes the words of conflict expert Larry Slade, who gave us some insight a while back on how to talk to others with differing viewpoints from our own, when he said that 鈥淚t鈥檚 more emotionally comfortable to have a Facebook feed that has comments and features consistent with [our own] hidden biases.鈥

In fact, the act has a name, and it鈥檚 called 鈥渃onfirmation bias.鈥 鈥淯sers have a tendency to search or interpret and recall information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs,鈥 the author鈥檚 study, Andrew Bessi, told CNN.

Not only can this stunt our personal growth as individuals, but it鈥檚 also a great way to spread misinformation, or the dreaded 鈥fake news.鈥 As Bassi points out, 鈥淚f we see something that confirms our ideas, we are prone to like and share it. Moreover, we have limited cognitive resources, limited attention and a limited amount of time.鈥 All of that adds up to blind sharing of misinformation.

So now what? Do we stop sharing the things that interest us? Not necessarily, but it migggghhht be time to take a step back before doing so 鈥 fact-checking goes a long way.

3D render of a red key on a computer keyboard with the label "fake news".

So, too, does being willing to hear the other side of a (respectful) argument, and acknowledge the fact that just because you found an article or post that shares your viewpoints doesn鈥檛 make them 鈥渞ight鈥 or invalidate someone else鈥檚.

Or, maybe you go one step further and take a FB break entirely? (It CAN be done!) Then again, maybe you keep it around鈥 you know, just to keep tabs on swimsuits that will turn you into a mermaid and stuff.

Does this new study concern you? Sound off over @BritandCo.

(h/t CNN, photos via Getty)