Wait. I’m in a Filter Bubble?

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You may or may not be aware that we each have our own online filter bubbles. But what is a filter bubble? Well, Eli Pariser describes that it is, where various filters, such as our location and algorithms are put together to provide us with our own personalised world of information.

So, what does this mean? Well, depending on who we are and what we have searched, or sites we have clicked on, sites such as Yahoo, Facebook and Google, will show us what it believes we would want to see, but this is not always what we should or need to see.

You may be wondering why this is an issue? Well let us ignore the ethical issue and the invasion of privacy but focus on the issue from an intellectual point of view. These algorithms tailor information under predetermined assumptions, such as our browsing history, which can mean we receive less information of varying or contradicting viewpoints. This in a sense, can cause us to be “isolated intellectually”. Therefore, the issue is, we may only see one point of view or one side of things, skewing our understandings about certain issues, causing us to be unintentionally ill-informed. This of course, can be a greater concern to some more than others depending on our profession or task being conducted. For example, composing a research piece, for an assessment at university, where to achieve a higher mark, you will need to examine both sides to an issue. As such, since these algorithms create a personalised web, where we do not decide what to receive and what information will get excluded, therefore in this case, our research will be restricted.

While looking into and thinking about this concept of a Filter Bubble, I am making my own recollections, where I have only now realised the filter bubble, I was in. For example, Netflix giving recommendations of what to watch based on other shows or movies watched, or being sent an email, after watching a season of a show. For example, I recently finishing watching the first season of Titans, and days after doing so, received an email from Netflix, “What to watch after Titans”. While in this case, it can be quite helpful to uncover a show you might have not found on your own, in other scenarios; especially when different sites or apps combine, it can feel like an invasion of privacy. Such as when I bought a Christmas present, online, and then within a few days, saw an advertisement on Instagram, for the same product. At the time, I considered this a coincidence, but now I realise, the advertisement was more likely to be tailored to me, based on an algorithm.

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I believe a Filter Bubble, can be a good thing, provided we are aware and consent to data being collected and used. In addition to this, us as consumers and users being able to alter and decide, what we see and what gets omitted.

Hello, I am Jacob. I am studying Business, majoring in Accounting. Hoping to share my thoughts :)

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