Monday, April 3, 2017

The Filter Bubble

We all use social media, we all love to see things we can relate to or agree with on out timeline. Have you ever unfollowed someone because of the things they post? 
Ever unlike a page because they posted something you don't believe in? 
To be honest, we all probably have.
It just feels good to see something that you enjoy rather than something you are opposed to. Because of this, these different media platforms created algorithms to sort through all the content we could see to only show us what we want to see, or what we thought we wanted to see.

This is called a filter bubble. Amanda Hess states in a New York Times article "The filter bubble describes the tendency of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to lock users into personalized feedback loops, each with its own news sources, cultural touchstones and political inclinations." Although it presents relevant information, it causes consumers to be blind to everything else. This takes away perspective, truth, diversity and it can be argued even democracy. Not only does this filter through the content to give us what we like, but it also tends to give us what we already know. New information that can provide new perspectives or just educate a wider audience isn't reaching them.

If you look at our nation's most recent election, you may begin to see how a filter bubble can be more dangerous than convenient. If you are more left or right leaning, you probably interact with that kind of content and have friends that are as well resulting in that one specific group of ideologies being presented to you. All else is hidden, you may not get the truth, or get to see the other side of the story, everything you see is biased. New York Magazine published an article talking about how these kinds of algorithms explain why Donald Trump's Presidency was so unexpected across the country. Democracy really relies on the public being informed, and when the majority of the public gets their news from social media that have filtering algorithms, then how effective is our democracy? 

This "filter" of sorts ruins the possible rhetoric that can take place within these mediums. Instead of two sided arguments, it's simply a conversation. The debates and conflicts and arguments that once annoyed us, can no longer be found. Dissoi Logoi, a two-fold argument, can't exist when both sides are not even being presented. How you understand the opposition's position when their position isn't being presented to you? Dissoi Logoi is essential in rhetoric. When you understand and can see the other side of the story then you can understand the problem better and come to an agreement easier or even work together and create a successful solution to a problem.

A filter bubble may be a good solution to the unwanted content that doesn't pertain to us, but when it includes news and important information that is needed to inform a democracy correctly, then it doesn't seem as necessary. 

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