The negative effects of the filter bubble

7

December

2016

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5/5 (2)

When I search for something on Google, the results displayed on my screen will be rather dissimilar from the results shown to you. Based on past click behaviour, search history and other information Google has gathered about me as a user. The same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and many other platforms.

We live in an age of filter bubbles, a term introduced by internet activist Eli Pariser, who states that adapted newsfeeds and search results are limiting our view of the world. Our perception is pressed into a filter bubble, successfully isolating people in their own cultural or socio-political world. Topics and news that we find uncomfortable or that are disrupting our current view of the world are simply left out.

Pariser gives the example of his friends that are searching for ‘’BP’’ in Google. Google shows an add and investment information to his first friend, while his other friend sees an article about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The two types of information will cause his two friends to have entirely different opinions about BP. Another example is a supporter of a certain political party. The newsfeeds that are shown to him on his Facebook wall will most probably support the views of his political party, completely editing out views from opposite parties. Ideas are confirmed by limited diversity on the Internet, which causes the creation of a view or a ‘’bubble’’ that is far from real.

The filter bubble phenomenon can lead to a condition of disconnect, as people will become unable to understand how people could have different perspectives from themselves. Curating the information to what we want to see, rather than what we need to see will cause long-term problems. I believe it is essential to be aware of the negative impact of filter bubbles, in a world where personalized information is increasingly used.

 

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2 thoughts on “The negative effects of the filter bubble”

  1. Hello Annemiek, big issue indeed I think. Especially the fact that people are no longer exposed to other ideas than the ones they are familiar and comfortable with, is something we should be aware of. I hope laws will be formed to regulate the intensity of this content personalization, as I fear that the large firms will not take responsibility themselves. A search engine like duckduckgo.com by the way lets you experience a bubble-less search, interesting to see how much ‘worse’ the results are compared to Google, and part of that is due to the lack of personalization. Most of the time, I personally prefer a non-filtered search over quicker/easier searching.

  2. Hi Annemiek! Thanks for posting this interesting post. I think you are completely right about the filter bubble. In addition to your post, I think you forgot to mention one very important negative result due to this phenomenon. For example, when I am buying my clothes online I am happy about the good service and nice delivery. When the product is delivered I am happy about the product which I just bought and wear it the next day. The following weeks, my facebook and other marketing affected platforms will give me plenty of recommendations about clothing I may buy in the following future. This is due to the, as you mentioned, filter bubble where I ended up after buying my product online. Despite the fact there is a high change that I like the recommendations which are given to me online the marketing team from this retail companies forget one important think. The value of surprise!

    When the marketing strategy is only focussing on products which fall into the same category, we are creating boxes more than ever. Since years will pass, my taste about clothing will be replaced by another in a matter of time. However, the marketing strategy will stay focussed on historical data. I think the next step in marketing tools like this is trying to get back to the helicopter view. Marketing strategies are undervaluing the value of surprise at the moment.

    At the moment, their is less research on the extend in which a customer want to stay with his or her clothing style for the rest of their life. I think the companies who are trying to differentiate in targeting their customers on other things than only historical based data can get a competitive advantage in this industry.

    What do you guys think about this filter? Do you agree on the point that the value of surprise is undervalued by companies?

    Greetings,
    Wessel

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