Filter Bubble: Can we pop it?! – Topic 2

“Filter Bubble” was first coined by Eli Pariser (2011), who described it as a personalised search where algorithms guess what content myself would be interested in using data provided by yourself outlined in the video below:

Figure 1 – Filter Bubble on Biteable created by Will Jones: Sources: (El-Bermawy, 2016)

 

Evidence of Filter Bubbles

The effect of filter bubbles had a big effect on the recent US election. Listen below to find out how:microphone-2104091_1280

Audio file recorded by Will Jones. Sources used: (El-Bermawy, 2016; Hern, 2017)

I conducted research into the results my father and I would receive when searching the same term.

new-piktochart_28759994

Figure 2 – Different search results for the word “Student”

Interestingly, when searching “student” we both received different search results. I am provided with blackboard, SUSSED, accommodation in Southampton as it has used my search history and location to realise I am in Southampton and am probably looking to access resources. My dad, however, has been provided with definitions and student finance which a parent has to fill in for my student loan.

Reliability of sources

This is becoming a big issue due to the fact users are becoming separated from news and viewpoints which challenge views of their own, leaving them isolated in a world they believe is right (Martindale, 2006).

Therefore it is very important to make sure even though certain searches and Facebook news pops up on your timeline these aren’t always the truth. There are always two sides to a story, and with even fake news being publicised, what you read could be incorrect.

This effect of filter bubbles has been well publicised and is summarised in the video as well as methods to ‘pop’ your filter bubble:

Figure 3 – Filter Bubble effects and how to ‘pop” the bubble. Created by Will Jones using PowToon
Sources used: Martindale 2006; Delaney, 2017; Ponsot, 2017

In conclusion, it is necessary to venture outside your filter bubble to access reliable content to make sure you experience different views and not get stuck in a mindset where what you see and believe is always correct. Horizon (n.d) is a research group who are trying to raise awareness of this in young people and trying to enable people to have more control.

Word Count – 309

http://www.readacrosstheaisle.com – The app which will help you burst your filter bubble (mentioned in figure 3)


References

Delaney, K. (2017). Filter bubbles are a serious problem with news, says Bill Gates. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/913114/bill-gates-says-filter-bubbles-are-a-serious-problem-with-news/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

El-Bermawy, M. (2016). Your Filter Bubble is Destroying Democracy. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/filter-bubble-destroying-democracy/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Hern, A. (2017). How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/22/social-media-election-facebook-filter-bubbles [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Horizon (n.d.). UnBias: Emancipating Users Against Algorithmic Biases for a Trusted Digital Economy. [online] Horizon. Available at: https://www.horizon.ac.uk/project/unbias-emancipating-users-against-algorithmic-biases-for-a-trusted-digital-economy/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Martindale, J. (2016). Forget Facebook and Google, burst your own filter bubble. [online] Digital Trends. Available at: https://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/fake-news-and-filter-bubbles/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Pariser, E. (2011). Eli Parisier: Beware online “filter bubbles” [Video] Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles/details

Ponsot, E. (2017). A complete guide to seeing the news beyond your cozy filter bubble. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/896000/a-complete-guide-to-seeing-beyond-your-cozy-filter-bubble/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018]

 

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17 thoughts on “Filter Bubble: Can we pop it?! – Topic 2

  1. Hi Will,

    I enjoyed reading your blog about the Filter Bubble and the video you created was really interesting and nicely put together, it was helpful for trying to understand the whole concept of the Filter Bubble. As well as the chart that you created showing the difference results that you as a student and your father got when you both searched the word ‘Student’.
    Do you think that the filter bubble is only relevant for different generation for example like you and your father or do you think that it can be relevant for peers and friends?

    Natalie
    (Word count: 99)

    Like

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for your kind words. I found it interesting to see the difference between our search terms. I did, however, ask my housemate to do the same search and we did get the same results pop up. As I mentioned in my blog, Google analyses our activity, search history and location which I can see the evidence in the search. Being a student in Southampton I received search results related to websites I use and based on my location. Therefore in answer to your question, I believe if you ask your housemates and peers at Southampton University I do believe you will get a large proportion of similar search results. However, if you asked a friend from a different uni you would again, get different results, due to their location and search history. I believe sites such as Blackboard​​​, university portal and accommodation​​ would still appear but be specific to their university location.
      Perhaps you could give this a try for yourself with a different search term. I would be interested to hear your results.

      Many thanks
      Will

      Like

      1. Hi Will,

        I tried testing it out, we all googled the word Australia and found that we as students all got the same google results, we even tried a completely random word and googled the word Rabbit but again all our results were the same, so agreeing with what you said!! I should now ask my parents and friends from home to see if they get different results.

        Natalie

        Like

  2. Hi Will. Great post! I love the number of resources you have used, and the depth to which you have explored this topic. The comparison of search terms to is something I have never thought of before.

    Something I’d like to ask you about, filters bubbles offline – do you believe they exist? I’m curious as to whether filter bubbles are something that is new with the internet, or if we experience it with traditional media too. For example, someone more traditionally right wing may be attracted to the Daily Mail or Telegraph, whereas as someone more left the Guardian. Therefore the news they consume comes through their filter bubble? This article from Vice pulls at that idea: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pgkxng/why-popping-the-social-media-filter-bubble-misses-the-point

    Just wondering your thoughts!

    Thanks,

    Tom

    Like

    1. Hi Tom,

      Cheers for the comments, I really tried on increasing the numbering and variety of my sources on this topic.

      Filter bubble still exists offline and are a harder to move away from I believe. People are naturally swayed to a certain newspaper or offline media based on their political stance as you commented. Would people spend money buying a newspaper with a slightly different political stance to them? I don’t believe they would.

      Having read the article you suggested, it definitely made me think. It goes on to state that not every voter has a social media account and not all forces that characterised elections are all on social media. I agree with these statements but I do believe that Facebook and Twitter are more powerful than offline media and have been deemed a secret weapon in elections (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39830727). Would you agree with this?

      In terms of breaking out of the offline filter bubble, I believe this is harder than breaking the online filter bubble. This is due to the ease of reading other peoples views. To gain an understanding of other views in print you are required to buy 2 or 3 papers. However when online you can find stories of interest and then search for these on google news to find different views on the matter. Apps such as Read Across the Aisle as mentioned in my blog is a great tool to do this.

      Hope this answered your questions.
      Thanks once again for reading.
      Will

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Will.

        Thanks for your reply. I too think it is harder to break offline, but it also much easier to quantify the impact of a filter bubble online, which I think makes people more aware of their online filter bubble, vs offline?

        I really like the idea of Read Across the Aisle, so thank you for sharing.

        Tom

        Like

  3. Hi Will,

    I like the layout of your blog and good use of visuals. I was really impressed with your infra-graphic and was actually shocked to see the differences for such a simple search. I think it is an important point that you make not to trust all the information you see on facebook or social media sites, as it is something I have definitely been guilty of in the past.

    I was wondering if you agreed with the interesting point that Bill Gates’ made on filter bubbles, that education is the counterbalance to them (Delaney, 2018)? The analogy you mentioned about popping the filter bubble I thought was clever and believe its something everyone should be making a conscious effort to do. Do you believe it is the responsibility of social media sites to filter this information or down to us?

    Thanks,
    Will

    Word Count: 144

    References:
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.dvBYEE46r#.trvPVVreb
    https://qz.com/913114/bill-gates-says-filter-bubbles-are-a-serious-problem-with-news/

    Like

    1. Hi Will,

      Thanks for the comments. I tried to vary my use of resources to showcase my findings on this topic.

      Myself likewise never knew the difference between searches, I just thought everyone received the same search results.

      I do believe education is the counterbalance to filter bubbles. We need to make a conscious effort to break out of the bubbles. Educating ourselves on the matter and how to consciously search for other political views will do this. However, I believe there should be some personalisation to the filtering that facebook and google carry out. For example, I find the advertising useful, it is relevant to myself so is nice to see when things are on sale or new products are out. Therefore I would like this personalisation to carry on. However, in terms of news, I believe I should have a selection on what I want to read rather than an algorithm deciding what I want to read.
      What do you think? Have you ever thought that you could be in a filter bubble and ever consciously tried to pop it?

      Look forward to hearing your reply
      Will

      Like

  4. Hi Will,

    Great blog. I loved how you used your own example of how the same search can generate very different results- I did this in my blog too! I also particularly liked how you explained how to pop filter bubbles in your Youtube video.

    I would be interested, however, to know if you believe there are any positives of filter bubbles? I know that you and your dad received very different search results when searching ‘student’ but I believe that sometimes this could be a good thing. The fact that usage of the internet is tailored to you can make it easier and quicker to use!

    Here is a blog post which discusses the positives and negatives:

    https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/idst-325-spring2015/2015/02/02/the-filter-bubble-disadvantages-and-advantages/

    Let me know your thoughts!

    Chloe

    Like

    1. Hi Chloe,

      Thanks for your comment. Before writing this blog I did not realise the extent of filtered searches between different users searching the same word. It is interesting to see you received similar results to me when searching “China”. I was just wondering why you think this could be? Is your mum a regular traveller hence displaying more travel based results?

      I completely agree with you and this is something me and Sinead got into a discussion about. Most certainly there are definitely some benefits to filter bubbles. For example, in my dissertation, I am looking at renewable energy source in Tenerife. Due to this I am seeing recently published news stories related to this without me searching for it which I find very useful.

      Thanks for commenting. Hope to hear from you soon.
      Will

      Like

      1. Hi Will,

        I also thought that it was very interesting to see the difference in results that my mum received when searching ‘China’.

        In response to your question I believe my mum received travel based results because she has recently been looking to book a family holiday for the summer. As a family we were not sure where to go so I am sure she has been searching holidays in a variety of countries. This might explain why her search revolved around travel and tourist information for China!

        Your dissertation also sounds very interesting- good luck!

        Chloe

        Like

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