Filter bubbles

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Filter bubbles are a form of environment that is customized and targeted to an individual's needs. It depicts a situation in which the user is mentally displaced or alienated as a result of the personalization of online searches in virtual search engines that provide interfaces for making personal, taste, design, and desire queries. The inbuilt algorithms on such specific websites, such as Google and Facebook, store an individual's search background in its archives and then seek to amass information and data that best fits the single user based on his likes. The search engines make a selective and calculated guesswork as what that subscriber wishes to see and the avails the predictions in the nick of time with a view to making the search for information easier and user-friendly. The search engine strives to feed the individual with politically correct material that best fits his or her interests and hence letting the person, not access material that is unwanted or unnecessary. The results that are obtained are derived in relation to the click-habit, location or the history of one’s search in the previous sessions (Dutton, William H. et al.). The name was coined by Pariser in 2010, who is a staunch internet activist. The users tend to consumer information that is tailored to meet their preferences and hence they are in a position to avert the kind of information that they disagree with. This helps them relapse to the world of their own that is closed off from the cosmopolitan setup. This deprives them of the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge which will later bear on their ability to integrate the variety of information and ideologies. That is exacerbated by the way they develop their radical stances which give no room for diverse viewpoints or criticism which is pivotal and core in the development of the human mind.

The particular selections and choices that are made by the algorithms are inviable hence the subscriber may not detect the mechanics and dynamics behind it. Such algorithms are well pronounced in Google where they are referred to as Google Personalized Search outcomes. The same case is very much prevalent on Facebook and other social media interfaces where suggestions are made to the users on what s/he wants to consume. The phenomenon is known as “Facebook’s Personalized News-stream” which avails the information that the subscriber ascribes to most frequently. There has been varied reactions and responses in the same token but the concept has been embraced by many as liberal since the user is at liberty to be conscientious enough to refine the search and get the right and preferred information. The bubble effect has been regarded addressable and minimal since the user has the mandate to pick and choose what one wishes to consume.

The effect of filter bubbles came to the limelight on the eve of the presidential elections in the United States of America when the results came as a rude shock to many and some a pleasant surprise. The aftermath of the elections was attributed to the bubble effect since given propaganda was being disseminated strategically in order to provide mileage to a given political wing. The subscribers are subjected to the impact of fake news that is tailored-made to galvanize people against a given political inclination. Echo chambers were employed significantly in trying to make people have a polarized stance in connection with a particular political affiliation and the individuals that were involved were insulated against prosecution or any form of questioning. This phenomenon entailed a condition where the beliefs are amplified or magnified through a repetition strategy in a closed system which is meant to enable the populace to be carried away in a given direction. The conflicting or diverse viewpoints are shut off, censored or underrepresented in order to foster a skewed setup that encourages the violations of the spirits of democracy. The filter bubble drives individuals into superimposing their own current take on world affairs and views. This tries to make the skewed ideologies more universally embraced than really is. The aspect endeavors to create a deep impression which is laced with a good deal of biases, stereotypes and negative mentality which disintegrates the social fabric further as a result of the rifts and differences that emanate out of the associations and dissociations between the two opposing factions. The proponents and opponents of the filter bubble concept have had a heated and protracted engagement as to the overall impact of the feature but they seem to have agreed to disagree (DiFranzo, Dominic, and Kristine Gloria-Garcia). That has been caused by the grave repercussions that the bubble effect has especially on democracy and truth. It has been a lethal weapon that has been embraced to relay mass lies to the public. There has been a lot of confusion as to what is objective news and fake news and the filter bubble aspect has been playing a key role in facilitating the success of this deleterious phenomenon.

The filter bubble is meant to allow individuals to mix and mingle with fellows of their kind whom their share similar philosophies and preferences with. The feature creates a certain environment that has perfect conditions and void of any technical hitches where life moves smoothly. The absence of criticism in the setup brings about some sense of retardation and stagnation in term of progress economically and socially. The individuals are trapped within that filter bubble cocoon and hence the parties tend to have some sense of complacency due to the false sense of security and contentment. The individuals are isolated in the realms of intellectualism due to the limited and retrained exposure to diverse views and stances from varied personalities. Variety is the spice of life and hence the inadequate access to information from all quarters consigns one to the archives since s/he loses relevance in the natural environment. This aspect was conducted by Pariser where he asked individuals to key in “Egypt” in Google and the results were compared between two individuals. It was discovered that the first individual had information that related to news and travels just like his fellow but there was extra information in the other which entailed the Egyptian Revolution which occurred in 2011.

The latent demerit of the bubble effect has been predicted to have a significant impact on the way the world view by the partakers of the bubble effect would be. The individuals would be having a narrow perceptive of the world events as dictated by the limited and filtered data resources that they consume. Such would be more inclined to portray a gross and abysmal degree of ignorance due to the fact that they rarely access the data variety that enables one to have a wide spectrum knowledge concerning the world activities. The free access to all types of sources of information gives one the rationale to make informed decisions on a day to day basis. The filter bubble effect exacerbated the feature that is synonymously referred to as splinternet or as it is chiefly known as cyberbalkanization. This an aspect that is sometimes called cultural tribalism whereby only individuals of the similar mindset and those who share the same taste are able to interact freely. The online audience is then subjected to virtual demarcations that are constructed from the restrictions that are geared towards limiting the access to information by given groups of people.

The filter bubble has had a great impact on the type of information that is disseminated. There has been more harm than good that has resulted from the use of the feature. The segregation that arises from the selective presentation of information impacted negatively on the freedom to access and dissemination of information since some information is only limited to given information. The people should be in a position to choose freely what they want to listen to if the spirit of democracy would be upheld in high esteem. The phenomenon has made the propagation of propaganda and fake news possible and the use of the subscribers’ information for the sake of target marketing is the violation of the privacy of the individuals. It appears as an evolved mode of exploiting people by encroaching on their privacy and capitalizing on the loophole to make undue profits from the customers’ profile.

Works Cited

DiFranzo, Dominic, and Kristine Gloria-Garcia. "Filter Bubbles And Fake News." XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine For Students, vol 23, no. 3, 2017, pp. 32-35. Association For Computing Machinery (ACM), doi:10.1145/3055153.

Dutton, William H. et al. "Social Shaping Of The Politics Of Internet Search And Networking: Moving Beyond Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, And Fake News." SSRN Electronic Journal, 2017, Elsevier BV, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2944191.

October 25, 2022


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