You live in a filter bubble

It’s true! You do. I’ve been aware of this effect for a while, but it’s easy to forget about and difficult to change. What’s outside your filter bubble?

When Facebook switched this on, I switched it back off, so my ‘latest news’ feed shows content from all of my friends, not just the algorithm-selected ones. However, it requires several things to change it: awareness that it’s happening, the knowledge of how to change it, and the will to do so. People might like the setting, or they might not know what’s going on.

On things like Google? Hrm – I wasn’t aware of this and don’t know the extent of it! It reminds me of a post I made about a year ago, which it might be a good idea to revisit… but also reminds me of an excellent article on walled gardens over at the Theatre of Reason. Check it out here; here’s a spoiler, but also an excellent teaser:

The clever trick is to make the garden so large and the grass so green that we forget the walls are there, and we don’t notice the milking.

The thunder we hear is not Facebook and Google fighting to make a better social world for the user. It’s the sound of two landowners fighting over cattle.

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Categories: communication, Problems, Thoughts | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “You live in a filter bubble

  1. I never knew google did this as well! – Thanks for flagging it up Dave!

    • Yeah, I knew it filtered by region (ie google.co.uk vs google.com.au) and that if you’re logged in it would do it if you chose, but I had no idea it was deeper than that! A tad worrying I reckon…

  2. M@

    Surely the advent of social networking breaks the mould of search algorithms and personalized results; my friends/co-workers/family will often dump a whole load of links relevant/not-relevant – something I’d be unlikely to find by myself anyway.
    – like this blog for instance
    – like that video etc etc

    What about twitter? Twitter brings a ‘word-on-the-street’ feel to the internet (particularly with ‘trending topics’) – probably why it has become as popular/controversial as it has now.

    • That’s true. However, many of these still have filters. In a general sense, I’m the filter for this blog. The point made about facebook and google is that the filters are invisible. Twitter doesn’t, yet, and that’s cool – though you do have to actively follow a diversity of people, otherwise your feed will just be people you agree with.

      I think the point is that, unless we actively look at what information channels we are using, and ask the question ‘are these diverse’, we may fall into a ‘filter bubble’.

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