Friday, June 2, 2017

Pop the Filter bubbles

Blog post 3
Filter Bubble
Zack Darlington
Comm 250

            There are a number of characteristics that a person may use to describe themselves. Hobbies, religious views, political stance, College education or employment may make up the foundation in which someone bases their lifestyle on. Social media plays a key role in creating and then confirming these characteristics. These social sites are created with algorithm’s that are a self continuing process that can produce large amounts of data. Algorithms have the ability to suggest material that we may enjoy, due to our previous preferences. Some user’s may find this very beneficial because they no longer have to actively research and find topics similar to their preferences. Like many things in life, simplifying can have its pros and cons. One example of a pro may be your Amazon account providing you with different types of patio furniture that are similar to the style you have been looking for. This Algorithmic process simplifies the exhaustive steps that are taken when relying on one’s own knowledge to find a similar product. When these algorithms are implemented into a different context, we can see how society may begin to divide. These same algorithms that can suggest movie topics for you based on the movies you have viewed, can also suggest political articles that align with articles you have read in the past. With more controversial or sensitive topics, algorithms can create a divide in our society. The term Dissoi Logoi essentially means that there are two sides to every argument. However, algorithms prevent us from being open to the opposing side. One may not feel that they approach situations close minded, but because we follow the suggestions provided to us from these algorithms, we are less informed on opposing views. However, user’s follow the suggestions that are provided because we are comfortable with the view that is being displayed. This is defined as a filter bubble. Filter bubbles are created by algorithms through the process of understanding what we have a tendency to view the most, and providing similar options. We live in these filter bubbles almost subconsciously because we did not actively surround ourselves with these alternatives.

            On my personal media feeds, I do see an extremely small variety of opinions. This may be due to the fact that I tend to refrain from reading a friend’s political rant, regardless of their party affiliation. When it comes to less controversial topics, I encountered numerous accounts that all vary in what they post. One of my best hobbies involves guns and hunting. A large majority of my browsing time on social media will be spent watching videos on shooting techniques or different rifle reviews. But my feed still consists of make up tutorials or a dog riding a skateboard. When filter bubbles create a social divide, it is known as polarization. I believe that we see an increase in polarization when the topics are sensitive, such as politics. Algorithms were able to create individual filter bubbles, which led to the decline of dissoi logoi, which resulted in an increase in polarization.

            Algorithms clearly have their benefits. The ability to simplify our search results based on our past preferences is greatly appreciated. But like any “great” invention, there is a downside. Algorithms are having a profound effect on the increase in polarization. There are a few ways in which we can continue to apply dissoi logoi, and ease the tension between opposing views. Rather than relying on the internet for your news feeds, make an effort to find a hard copy of the newspaper. This removes the algorithm and causes you to actively search and identify what values you look for in certain news stands. Switching up your news provider can be another way of experiencing different opinions. The greatest leaders are comfortable with the uncomfortable. Step outside your filter bubble and help reduce polarization.

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