What Are Filter Bubbles & How To Avoid Them
The internet is facing a major issue. One that could threaten our democracy in the United States, and has already divided our country politically. The issue is filter bubbles.
What is a Filter Bubble?
Filter bubbles refer to the state of intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches on search engines or social media sites. As a result, users become separated from most information that presents an opposing viewpoint. These bubbles are associated with search engines and social media websites.
How Are Filter Bubbles Created?
Algorithmic websites, like many search engines and social media sites, show users content based on their past behavior. Depending on what you’ve clicked on in the past, the website shows you what it thinks you are most likely to engage with.
Social Media companies, like Facebook, want you to keep using the product. So instead of being a feed of all the information, Facebook is selective with what it puts in your feed. People often assume that the information they see is unbiased, when it is actually skewed towards their beliefs.
Why are Filter Bubbles Bad?
After awhile of only seeing results they agree with, people begin to believe that they are more correct and then their views are strengthened and solidified. This means that when someone disagrees with them, both of their views are likely to be more polarized. As a result, these people are less likely to agree with each other, or even talk to each other.
Filter bubbles are a kind of “intellectual isolation”. This isolation creates ignorance to other perspectives and opinions.
Eli Pariser, an internet advocate, said in a TED talk, “instead of a balanced information diet, we may end up with only information junk food.” So, the internet, which appears at first to be a window into the world’s information, may only be showing you half of the story. This is also bad for democracy, which requires political discourse and discussion of issues to reach a compromise. If everyone’s views are so polarized that this becomes impossible, we’re in trouble as a country.
How to Prevent a Filter Bubble
Insights and advice to escaping the echo chambers of social media, newsfeeds, and everyday conversation so that we may…www.ted.com
Farnam Street’s Recommendations for How To Avoid Filter Bubbles
- Use ad-blocking browser extensions
- Read news sites and blogs that provide a wide range of perspectives
- Switch our focus from entertainment to education
- Use Incognito browsing, delete search history and stay logged out if possible
- Delete or block browser cookies
How Search Encrypt Avoids the Filter Bubble Effect
Private search engines are a great way to avoid filter bubbles. SearchEncrypt.com doesn’t track its users, so it doesn’t have information to build a profile of them. This means that results are based only on keywords. Search Encrypt’s search results aren’t influenced by your political views or any past internet behavior.
Personalized Internet is not Better Internet
Another way to avoid filter bubbles is by limiting the “personalized” and “tailored” aspects of the web. While it may seem like a good thing to have a custom, optimized experience, websites tracking your information and using it to determine which information you see is the exact cause of filter bubbles.
If the information you are shown is incomplete, and ads can target you specifically, is your experience really any better?