The Filter Bubble


The “filter bubble” is essentially the idea of isolating one in his own world based on his preferences without his own consent. This might seem shocking in today’s world, but surprisingly it happens everyday. The filter bubble is the invisible wall that separates one from information that the internet thinks is uninteresting to the person using it, yet maybe very essential. It collects information about the user and tries to “help” the user by giving him the opportunity to discover and further improve his virtual experience by giving him better search results customized for that person. For example, Google search is not a general search engine. There is a very slim chance that two people searching for the same keyword will get the same results. That is because it has been automated to customize to that person’s previous interests. Google accounts almost 57 information ports, one of them is where the user is sitting or accessing the information from, even when not using one’s Google account. This is scary and at the same time has an isolating affect on the user. The person only gets information that the internet thinks she is interested in, but does not provide them with information that is important or current. There is no balance in the results that one gets, since it is gives you information relevant to what the user has clicked on, so that person’s view of the world is saturated with something that she is already interested in. No other information gets through to that person, and therefore there is lack of not only vital news, but diversity. This creates a barrier to discover new boundaries and cultivate oneself. Since you are saturated with one thing, then you would almost never see what the “other side” has to say. Therefore this takes away one’s ability to seek knowledge and views of others who are different.

Elis Pariser, creator of the term “filter bubble”, is not against the internet. He just wants to have the freedom to interact with “others” who have opposing views. To understand and discover new boundaries. He wants the internet to be what we dreamed of it to be, a place where ones boundaries are endless and no electronic “gate keepers”. Compared to broadcast, he feels that the internet was what we thought of it to be, and knowing that we have those gate keepers, Pariser suggests that they give us the chance to have the internet experience not be focused on the users interests, but to also give him a chance to experience and be given important information as well. To him this is the fullest and best experience that the internet can give its users. It also gives them the freedom to make choices of what to discover next.
I think through his book I learned a lot of about the personalized experience of the internet that I thought did not exist. I thought that search results that one got was due to the popularity of the website. Pariser makes a very important point when he compares the internet to broadcast and the virtual verses thehuman gate keepers. It is important to understand that this bubble that surrounds each one of us also happens to not only cultivate us less, but I feel as if it “dumbs” us down. Just like “one rotten apple, spoils the bunch” in this case it is all of the people that you are surrounded by are the same as you, therefore there is no other choice but you feeling like there is no one else out there that is different, which maybe extreme, but maybe true for some. This creates not only the previously mentioned problems, but less diverse thoughts and ideas, that can sometimes only be created with the diversity of understand different fields and even if one does not agree or like that field. I sometimes feel like competition and arguments bring out the best solutions, but in due to internets “help” this might not be happening all that often. How do you feel about this bubble that has been created and keeps restricting us as users?

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One thought on “The Filter Bubble

  1. Great piece! You hit this on the nail with how everything (from eating, clothing, friend, and lifestyle choices) is all being pumped into our lives like parts coming together on an assembly line. I wonder if people really want to be a part of these social media sites or if it is all part of the institutionalized systems that tell us being ourselves is worse than being alone.

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