Bursting Online “Filter Bubbles”

How social media sites are attempting to expose users to new ideas.

Well to start what are “Filter Bubbles”

In 2011, Eli Pariser gave a TED talk on the topic, arguing how content we see is being filtered by algorithms to “personalize” it. Pariser argues that the internet is showing us what we want to see, not necessary what we need to see. The worst part is we don’t get to see the content that is filtered out. This affects everything from Google search to our Netflix queues and especially our social media feeds.

Fast forward to 2017, and the problem presented by Pariser is still a problem that many are trying to tackle. How do companies code in the ethics of showing content that is both wanted and need?

Recently Facebook launched one way they are taking to do just that. When searching a topic on the site, it now shows what the “latest conversations” are on that topic. This is still in the early stages.  It’s still unclear what qualifies a topic for “Latest Conversations,” or if they’re manually selected or generated by an algorithm.

There are ways users can “pop” their own filter bubbles:  (From Mashable)

  • Don’t unfriend people based on beliefs.

39% of social media users have taken steps to block another user or minimize the content they see from them because of something related to politics – Pew Research 

  •  Don’t delete comments you don’t like
  • Engage with those you disagree with
  • Read the comments on your friends’ posts
  • Follow the media outlets you disagree with
  • Flag fake news

These are just a start!

With more and more people turning to social media and other online sources for news, it is important that multiple ideas and perspectives on those ideas are seen online.

Publications like the Washington Post have outlined how they think the media plays a role in sharing perspectives. Their simple answer: tell the news as straightforward as possible.

CNN has also written on the topic, saying that people need to have open conversations on topics, versus disregarding anything that does not confirm their pre-existing beliefs. They write that without those conversations, it can lead to “reckless sharing.”  Coming full circle to the spreading of fake news. As they say “do your own soul searching” or fact-checking before sharing.


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