The Filter Bubble

881 Words4 Pages
Eli Pariser, author of the “Filter Bubble” provides insight on how the personalized web is shaping our identity. He argues that what is good for consumers are not necessarily good for citizens (18). The Internet provides us with the answers to our questions, but perhaps this is the problem at hand. Today, we live in a filter bubble that “fundamentally alters the way we encounter ideas and information” (9). On December 4th, 2009 the era of personalization began; our computer monitors became one-way mirrors reflecting consumer interests (3). We assume that when we Google a term, we all see the same results, but algorithm suggests what is particularly best for you (2). Our behaviour has become a commodity to be bought and sold where each click signal sends a stream of information to be auctioned off to the highest commercial bidder (7). Therefore, the Internet is masked as a democratic public sphere that strategically tailors our search results to thereby limit an individual’s access to information.

Throughout the novel, I critically reflected about my past experiences of personalization on Google and Facebook. I was already aware of the cookies on my browser and thus it is no coincidence that I see advertisements familiar to me. In a competitive market, York University engages in this as well by remaining up-to-date with their social networking. For example, York’s slogan “this is my time” frequently appear while streaming YouTube videos. They have access to my information because I regularly log onto the York web site on my student account. If I look at the far right corner of my Facebook feed at the moment, there are adverts ranging from Indigo, KISS 92.5, and Sports Chek; information based on sponsorship, viewership, location ...

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...dered invisible to the public domain. A democracy requires seeing things from another person’s point of view, but instead we are more enclosed in our own bubbles (5). The 21st century gave birth to a fast-paced economy where consumers want everything to be clear-cut and simple. Is knowledge of the filter bubble going to stop me from using the Internet for social networking, education, or entertainment? Certainly not, which just goes to show how dependent we are towards technology. Sociologist Danah Boyd indicates, “If we’re not careful, we’re going to develop the psychological equivalent of obesity” (14, Pariser). The future appears bleak and I fear for children who are exposed to the Internet at earlier changes. Our knowledge is often distorted and comes to us second-hand, manipulated, and filtered through a media lens under the control of other human beings.
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