Have you ever realized how easy it has become to follow relevant news articles, explore interesting Netflix shows or listen to new music that is similar to what you already listen to? How does the online world know that you may be interested in what it recommends? In case you were wondering, the idea of "constantly being watched" has arose in common discussion among many people because of this.
What most people do not know about the online world and how it knows what may be interesting to us is that it uses what is known as "filter bubbles". There are a variety of websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pandora, Netflix, and many others that use filter bubbles. These websites and apps learn what to recommend to you going off of what you’ve previously liked, read, listened to, or watched. It is a bit odd that these sites constantly keep track of these things that we do but overall it makes deciding what new things we’d like to try next much easier.
As a college student who spends a whole lot of time on the internet, I have noticed how much my news feeds has developed to become stories and videos shared by my friends relating to different things I have liked sometime in the near past in previous weeks or months. With that, I have began to wonder how Facebook knew which friends to suggest me to add. Some of the people who are suggested have no mutual connection to me, but I notice that they have the same interests and have liked a lot of the same pages and groups as I. As for the other friend suggestions, I assume that they are based off of the mutual friends we had.
Back to scrolling through my Facebook feed, I hardly ever encounter any shared stories or videos that I wouldn’t normally watch. It’s because Facebook knows what I have liked and is offering more of what I’m interested in, therefore blocking out other stories and videos that I wouldn’t normally click on. I frequently encounter the posts from the same friends who share the same things I do, or have similar likings and beliefs. However, I encounter other posts of stories or news articles that I don’t necessarily agree with. Whenever that happens, I tend to scroll past it and move forward, hinting to Facebook that it is irrelevant to me.
Although I see irrelevant posts, I understand there is some dissoi logoi being presented to me. I am use to seeing things posted that I am comfortable seeing rather than posts I wouldn’t be comfortable seeing. What I do see once in awhile is a mix of different sides of things presented by Facebook to consider other points of views. Sometimes that will lead me to unfollowing a page or friend so it won’t happen again.
Being able to basically choose which posts you will see in the future means a decline in consideration for opposing, or different types posts. I do think that this decline in dissoi logoi is leading to polarization in the online world because people are use to seeing things based on their likes, and so they never get to see the “other side”. There is so much going on that no one knows and it can’t only be as simple as collaborative filter bubbles, there has to be more. “There’s deeper things going on” and over time we may figure out and understand completely how it all works, but that, in my opinion, is unlikely (Keenan).
If you were interested in digging deeper and finding more information for your own knowledge, I have provided a couple links to fill you in on the topic collaborative filter bubbles:
Can you solve this mystery? Who’s watching?
Gardenswartz, Jacob. "Study: Social Media Bubbles Might Not Be Making Us More Polarized after All." Vox. Vox, 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.
Keenan, Tyler. "What Is Collaborative Filtering." Business2community. N.p., 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.