The Internet can give you access to anything and everything. That’s great, right? All this information will foster debate and trigger more conscious decision-making in society. Except there’s one thing stopping all this from happening: the filter bubble.
It’s the idea that when people cherry pick the information they get on the Internet, they become isolated in their own cultural bubbles.
They’re virtual spaces, wherein we consume only the information we want to and interact with the people who share our beliefs.
“Nobody goes online to find somebody who disagrees with them. No one goes online to find someone who’s going to shatter their worldview. So what it means is that not only are we less informed, but we’re no longer part of society, we’re part of our tribe. We’re part of the group of people who think like us, dress like us, act like us,” says web strategist Jesse Hirsh.
Internet giants like Facebook and Google are masters of targeting information at you and me. You’ve probably searched for cheap flights before that’s why travel promos keep appearing on your feed.
Those ads on Google? They’re not there by accident. Google uses complicated algorithms based on your location, search history, and 55 other signals to give you the most personalized web experience.
Former head of Al Jazeera English, Tony Burman, says filter bubbles are a sad truth, but a real one nonetheless.
“At the end of the day, we as individuals have got to choose what we choose to choose, and if we want to remain in our little bubble, we’re allowed, democratically to [do so].”
On the bright side, the Internet will always exist as the ultimate mecca of information. We are free to look up opposing views, learn about unfamiliar ideas, and step outside of our comfort zones.
But as social networking sites and search engines become increasingly obsessed with customizing content, are we left with a choice?
Check out our video on newsmakers, for more on the filter bubble.