Filter Bubbles: Affecting the World on a Large Scale

After our class discussion on filter bubbles, I conducted a test with a peer to see how different our search results would be on various topics. Although they were similar, the search results were not the same and featured slight differences such as different photos shown and the order of articles shown. Prior to our class discussion, I hadn’t realized the severity of this issue and am now finding myself quite naive. Large companies (for example: Google) are taking our personal information and analyzing it to filter what we see based on what the algorithms think we want to see. That means each user’s search results are tailored specifically to suit that person. The problem with this is that it is a form of censorship, covertly editing the information delivered to the end user.

Although it is not tangible, the filter bubble is something that actually exists, and is affecting the world on a large scale. Taking what information we already know and are comfortable with and eliminating opposing view points has effected our world in many ways, specifically in politics. This is the notion of pre-awareness, which marketer’s love because they are able to target what/who you are familiar with. An example of this is Kevin O’Leary announcing that he is going to run for Prime Minister of Canada. From a marketing perspective, this is good because both Canadians and Americans have pre-awareness of who Kevin O’Leary is from his appearances in Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank. On the same note, this is what happened in the 2016 American election, with people having pre-awareness of Donald Trump for being a business man and reality show star. This familiarity put a sense of trust within people and helped gain supporters and voters in that electoral campaign.

The question “Should social media companies burst filter bubbles?” depends from who’s perspective this is coming from, as well as the values and ethics of those parties. From a social media company’s pov, it is beneficial to have this filter bubble to easily target and advertise to consumers. On a different note, when does the protection and safety of society become superior in importance to selective advertising? This balance is what is concerning individuals today, because of it’s inevitable nature of censorship.

I believe the filter bubble should be burst because we have first hand seen the problems this can lead to. It is important for people to be educated, not based on their opinions, but based on facts. It is not harmful to show a conservative person liberal content, and vice versa. Without being exposed to both/all opinions on a matter, one can not be truly educated. This is a main reason why the filter bubble is flawed, filtering content so we only see what we enjoy is not socially responsible, and because of this I believe the filter bubble poses more flaws then positive qualities.