Instagram: My Own Sports Bubble

My Instagram has gone through many changes over the past several years. 2012 me had an Instagram filled with throwback Thursday and meme posts populating my feed. At that point in time, most of the posts on my feed were from friends who posted anything funny they found on the internet. Fast-forward many years later and I have come to realize that my Instagram has made a huge transformation.

I scroll once and see a NFL post. Makes sense — Deandre Hopkins is unstoppable. I’d be posting him a lot too if I worked for the NFL’s social media department.

Best WR in the league

I scroll again and see a couple posts related to soccer. Also makes sense.

I scroll once more and see an advertisement for V8 juice.

In my head, this seems almost natural to me. I think that as someone who follows sports, I should be shown a lot of sports oriented posts along with a healthy, athlete targeted advertisement.

After a couple more scrolls I came to a couple realizations. Firstly, it took a long while for me to actually come across a post posted by one of my friends. Before doing what I intended to use Instagram for, (connecting with friends) I was being shown advertisements and sports posts that weren’t even in chronological order. Secondly, my view of football, soccer, and basketball were heavily shaped by what I was seeing on Instagram.

If I saw House of Highlights post a Lebron highlight, I was conditioned to believe that he was playing well when I had no idea if he actually had an overall good game. I would be quick to agree with my friends on the talent of players covered by the Instagram accounts I followed and not the players who also played well but weren’t covered as often.

Instagram has too much influence over my opinions. Although absolutely nobody cares about my sport takes, I am being influenced by the content that these accounts choose to show me. In Castell’s “Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society” he highlights how societal institutions that can manipulate the media ultimately hold the power to impose its will over other social actors. If I can be convinced this easily, it scares me a little to think about how big tech companies can control how millions think without many even noticing. I would hate for important messages to be swept under the rug by the advertising goals on any social platform.

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Welcome to the course blog for SI 410: Ethics and Information Technology. Here, we’ll explore ethical IT as it relates to the news media, movies, music, or the general information environment.

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