This is a topic I wanted to write about for a long time. But first of all:
What is this ominous filterbubble?
A filter bubble is a state of intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behavior and search history.
As the definition above says, you’re within a filterbubble, if your (news)feed only contains stuff based on only a few opinions and mindset. The most typical filterbubble is, when you only see what you like. For example: you’re totally anti vaccines and live in a bubble? Then all you will see are new, articles, videos, ads regarding how bad vaccines are. So basically there is no way to get out of this single-point-of-view just by using what is presented in the news feed.
How does this happen?
Well, nowadays most of us rely on many news sources. But we don’t consume them directly - we like the big newspages and -papers on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. This way all we’re going to see is processed and filtered by those companies algorithms. Those algorithms use information about what we liked, which websites and pages we’ve visited, what we searched for, and so on and so forth. Due to this filtering we will only see what we like to see.
Why do companies do this?
Would you use a platform which only shows news and updates of things you don’t like or which are not part of your mindset? Such algorithms make users feel comfortable and are designed to make them come back. This also helps people with a similar mindset connect. Also this is basically just a normal thing. Even in the past people tended to read those newspaper, which mostly wrote stuff they liked.
If it is just a normal thing, why is it a problem nowadays?
Newspapers, radio, etc also published news and updates which conflicted with the user’s mindset. This way everybody was still confronted with an opposite opinion and therefore they were forced to think out of the box. The algorithms nowadays prevent such a mixture of news and updates - you only see what you like.
In addition to this algorithm-made problem, there is a self-made problem:
What are self-made bubbles?
Many users tend to simply block other people who say things they don’t like. This way they won’t be able to see their content anymore. If enough other users are blocked, you will be in a filterbubble again.
What to do against filterbubbles?
First of all, don’t rely on single, or only a few news distributors. You should also use sources and pages directly, this way there are less layers which could potentially filter what you’ll see. An other important thing is, to learn to handle other opinions and to not automatically block someone just because the mindset differs. This does not say, that you have to accept being insulted, but it says that we should re-learn how to have a normal discussion.