One thing I’ve thought about frequently in relation to social media within the past year is our social media bubble. This filter bubble is a form of isolation created as a result online algorithms which track your interests and responses on social media and other websites to bring you more of what you love. You may end up with oddly specific ads on Facebook for that particular dress you had in your online shopping basket (this can’t just happen to me – hello Modcloth!).
The Issue At Hand
The issue of the filter bubble was widely publicized and discussed as a result of America’s most recent election. There was a lot of discussion around how Americans who were left or right-wing were only seeing one side of the election and the story being told rather than a more rounded view of the political issues and candidates. This led many Americans to believe that the majority of the population felt the same way they did about election issues.
On a smaller scale this filter bubble is something I’ve noticed on my own personal Facebook account. I am left leaning politically as are most of my Facebook friends and followers. I tend to see posts promoting multiculturalism, immigration, and LGBTQ+ issues. It was not until I added a person who I had met professionally in order to request the use of their photos on a work project that I noticed I lived in a bubble. While this particular person and I agree on the importance of local heritage the posts we share and see on Facebook are wildly different. Their Facebook feed is almost totally opposite to the things I stand for and believe in. I found this upsetting and considered the possibility of unfriending the person.
Do the Cons Outweigh the Pros?
This leads me to ask questions about the benefits of these algorithms and the cookies which track browser history. Is is helpful to see only what you want to see, or what you already believe? Is it useful to think most of the population shares your worldview on politics and other issues?
The result of the realization that my Facebook newsfeed was skewed towards my own thoughts and beliefs led me to read a wider range of news stories to better understand what is happening in the world around me, and in particular outside my filter bubble.
And that Facebook friend? I still have them. I reconsidered my discomfort with their posts and continue to try to understand where their point of view is coming from.
What would you do in this circumstance? Have you unfollowed or unfriended people on Twitter and Facebook due to the material they post?
Bubbles in Our Social Media World. Is your newsfeed only telling you one side of the story? https://bit.ly/2Llcsa4
Bubbles in Our Social Media World. Are algorithms all they’re cracked up to be? #filterbubbles https://bit.ly/2Llcsa4