Bubble bubble toil and trouble

The first time I saw online advertising that related to one of my recent web searches I thought it was interesting that technology made this happen.  I also thought it was kind of creepy.

Last week I came across a TED Talk in which Eli Pariser discusses how our online behaviour has the potential to impact web searches and social media feeds through ‘filter bubbles’.


According to Technopedia, a filter bubble

“is the intellectual isolation that can occur when websites make use of algorithms to of selectively assume the information a user would want to see, and then give information to the user according to this assumption.”

The assumptions are made based on previous behaviors, what you ‘like’, browsing history, search history and where searches take place can impact your future search results and feeds. Algorithms (mathematical codes) are used to serve up the answers to search requests and the feeds in social media platforms.

As an evidence based researcher I want to be able to access all of the information when I search for it, not just what a bot wants to serve up to me.  The following video suggests a couple of ways to ‘burst’ the filter bubble including:

  • using search engines like DuckDuckGo, with no track policies that help to ensure everyone sees the same results,Bubble
  • switching from Facebook to Twitter, as it shows every update in your feed no matter the content,
  • enabling privacy settings on search engines.

What about you? Have you noticed a difference in your search results or Facebook feed? Have filter bubbles changed what you see?

One thought on “Bubble bubble toil and trouble

  1. Very interesting post. I have never really thought about a filter bubble. I will now. It may explain why so many conspiracy theorists still believe Hillary Clinton had a number of Bill’s political rivals killed. They might need to check there settings.

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