Friday, April 1, 2016

The Scary Scary Filter Bubble

A filter bubble is a topic I have just encountered this past week in my communication class.  The filter bubble mainly revolves around the idea that a website, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google, filters what information the user would like to see according to their past history, click behavior, location, etc.  The algorithm used by these websites is designed to bring only the most relevant data to the top of the page, but the problem that arises is that this separates us from those who believe differently or hold different ideologies.  Looking at my own Facebook feed, I have found that I am seeing more and more topics and points of discussion that I personally agree with and less topics that I disagree with.
I personally do not unfollow people with different ideologies on the basis that I would like to understand or at the very least accept the fact that we disagree on a core level.  This is my own personal preference, but when Facebook is automatically filtering posts and statuses from others, then there is no use for me to unfollow those I disagree with.  Facebook is taking the choice away from me, from what I want to see, in order to think they are better suiting my needs.  Before learning about my filter bubble, I was completely unaware that Facebook, Google, etc., were filtering my results.  These filtered results are leading to an increase in polarization of viewpoints.
I do think that the filtering of viewpoints leads to a polarization of viewpoints in the same manner mob mentality affects large crowds.  Often people who fall victim to the mob mentality who say, riot and loot, often say they got caught up in the moment and “everyone was doing it, so they thought it to be acceptable,” so they act differently than normal.  When people get together who share the same viewpoints and are exposed to more and more radical ideologies get together, their ideologies drift farther from what is considered center.  When embraced with multiple ideas from both parties, there is the possibility for compromise and collaboration.  This is impossible if everything you are viewing comes from people with the same or similar viewpoints.  Similar to a mob mentality, the same viewpoints can lead one another’s beliefs farther from the center.

I would encourage everyone reading this to find someone and scroll through Google together on your phones.  Search one word on Google and note the differences that arise on the same search.  Google is personalizing your own page based on your previous history and location.  It is surprising how the same search on a similar type of smart phone in the same location can come up with different search results.  Google is defining your filter bubble already and you may not have known it!

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