Should Social Media Companies Burst Filter Bubbles?
When the Internet started it was for the purpose of connecting information around the world but over time some of the largest social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have developed algorithms that tailor to what each person would personality want to see on their news feed. This is a smart marketing strategy by these companies because it makes users want to continue using their site because they are connecting with people that share the same views and beliefs as they have. These companies are creating an alternate universe where is seems like everyone is on the same page. They make people feel intelligent and that all their opinions are the right opinions.
Filter bubbles can be considered a good thing or a bad thing for so many reasons, which makes it hard to decide if we should have them on the web or not. Staring with the positives when you think back over history, even though information is still being limited from consumers, we are still making a breakthrough from how we communicated in the past. From in person, to the telephone, to the newspaper (that also did not give you access to all different perspectives), and to the way the Internet is now is just the next step.
Another factor, is that realistically most people don’t like talking to people that don’t agree with them. As scary as it is, these platforms that we use everyday multiple times a day; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram probably know us better than anyone. They see, analyze and track everything we search, like and click on first. They gather this information and are able to form a full understanding of who we are, which is why people always feel so lost and stressed out when they don’t have their phone with them. If you ask most people if they are addicted to social media they will probably say yes because its there safe place that is agreeing with everything they do and think.
People don’t have time to worry about every issue or even exciting event that is going on around the world, but surrounding themselves in there own personal searches provides information that reflects what is already going on in there lives. They are catering to what the customers know they want, so from the perspective of a social media company who has the sole purpose of getting people to use their sight, they are doing the right thing.
On the consumer side of this it really isn’t benefiting anyone. Realistically unless you are studying media and technology, most millennials do not even realize there is such thing as a filter bubble. They really do defeat the whole purpose of having the world at our fingertips because they are demonstrating an altered and biased world. Because the online bias is hidden from users, we don’t have the option to see other sources as the first things that pop up which is bad because its causing a disconnect of information between people. And further a disconnect between generations. I shared the Tedtalk video with my dad and his thought was that yes that will be a problem for your generation because your primary source for politics and society is social media platforms and young people that aren’t that educated buy into it. But he said for the older generation they don’t rely on just the first information they gather they look at a variety of sources, watch the news, read the papers and look for the other perspectives. But if the younger generations continue to search things on their own they will never be able to get realistic information or even know if what they are reading is true. It is because of the filter bubble that so many people were shocked by the results of the US election. Whether you are a conservative or liberal, whatever links you are clicking on, posts you are sharing and things you liked were tracked and those same ideas were what would continue to show up on your news feed. And if you are surrounding yourself with family and friends that have similar political views as you, which was common around the Ryerson campus during election time, then how are they suppose to see Trump as even having real potential to winning the election if they are only seeing hate and sarcastic comments towards him. People can share things on Facebook that they find that might not even be facts. They can spread false ideas, knowledge and wisdom. We can share information that defends our own views without really ever looking into an unbiased version of the other perspectives.
I believe that over time Facebook and other media platforms will realize that filter bubbles are not beneficial and they should remove them. Maybe not completely, but there has to be a balance, they need to include things that make us happy and we will look at but also things that make us think about new perspectives, challenge us and expand our horizons.