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The Rise of Filter Bubbles 408

Posted by samzenpus
from the sound-of-your-own-voice dept.
eldavojohn writes "Eli Pariser gave a talk at TED which posits that tailoring algorithms are creating 'filter bubbles' around each user, restricting the information that reaches you to be — unsurprisingly — only what you want to see. While you might be happy that your preferred liberal or conservative news hits you, you'll never get to see the converse. This is because Google, Facebook, newspaper sites and even Netflix filter what hits you before you get to see it. And since they give you what you want, you never see the opposing viewpoints or step outside your comfort zone. It amounts to a claim of censorship through personalization, and now that every site does it, it's becoming a problem. Pariser calls for all sites implementing these algorithms to embed in the algorithms 'some sense of public life' and also have transparency so you can understand why your Google search might look different than someone with opposing tastes." Hit the link below to watch a video of Pariser's talk.

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The Rise of Filter Bubbles

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  • by Rotworm (649729) * on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:23PM (#36137256) Homepage Journal

    "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions, [Eric Schmidt] elaborates [wsj.com]. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

    Google has mentioned a number of times that customization is a major feature of their searches. While this summary isn't without cause to be nervous about such a thing, instead of algorithms to correct algorithms, it's no major feat to allow users to disable some of the non-spam related algorithms. In fact, it's no major feat to disable algorithms by subcategory: geographical location, operating system, language, search history, etc.

    • Re:Derhythmed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:30PM (#36137288)

      it's no major feat to allow users to disable some of the non-spam related algorithms.

      It would be a major feat, however, to get users to actually exercise that option. Most of Google's users are clueless about these things, and so demanding that they opt-out is the wrong approach; rather, they should opt-in if they want their results filtered in that manner (not that someone who is educated enough to know about such options is likely to be someone who wants to close themselves off to other points of view).

      • Re:Derhythmed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rotworm (649729) * on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:34PM (#36137300) Homepage Journal
        True, but if Bing will produce customized searches equivalent to holding a mirror up to someone's face, people might opt for Bing instead of Google's "high road." I agree with you that it's better for society to have an opt-in system, I just imagine it might be too risky for a company to implement such a system.
        These two systems revolve around how badly people want their mirrors.
        • Re:Derhythmed (Score:4, Informative)

          by SydShamino (547793) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:43AM (#36137618)

          Blekko does exactly this. With their slash thingy you can search for "global warming" and only get the /liberal or /political or /scientific results - just want you already believe and want to be reaffirmed in.

          I know someone who works for Blekko.

        • by delinear (991444)
          Nobody ever said "Don't be evil" was going to be easy. I don't recall them officially adding "... well, you can be a little evil if it means a competitive advantage."
      • In such instances the algorithm will detect that you are without bias and not filter accordingly?
      • Re:Derhythmed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday May 16, 2011 @03:15AM (#36138132) Homepage

        Just make it a third button next to "I'm Feeling Lucky":

        "Google Search | I'm Feeling Lucky | Confirm My Opinions"

      • Re:Derhythmed (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dhalka226 (559740) on Monday May 16, 2011 @04:46AM (#36138344)

        While I agree that this sort of pre-filtered information over a societal level can become a problem, it's simply not the search engine's job to try to make us better rounded individuals. In fact it is against their interests.

        Their job to return the results a user is most likely to be interested in, and whether we want to admit it or not that includes taking whatever biases into account that they can muster. That doesn't mean filtering the results, but it should definitely be a part of the weighting. If Google did not do this, they are likely to actually lose money. Users are not getting the links they want most near the top of their results, therefore it's "working poorly" and any search engine that gives them what they want is a better algorithm, meaning they take their searches and the advertising dollars that go with them to someplace else. I'm not sure "we have half the users we did before, but they all read from a diverse set of sources!" is something to brag about. (Nor does not factoring bias into the weighting necessarily mean that they're going to read a diverse set of sources. Maybe they're just patient in clicking through to find what they're looking for.)

        It kind of reminds me of college. "You're treated like an adult! Everything is different!" That's what I heard going in, and I got there and was enraged to find out that I was going to spend two years dealing with "general education" requirements that have nothing to do with the things I want to learn. I spent the last 18 years of my life having people try to make me a well-rounded person. I'm an adult now, paying thousands of dollars a year in tuition. May I fucking choose what I see now? But that was years ago and I digress.

        The point is, search engines aren't about rounding our lives or our political influences. It's about returning the best possible results for my search as near to the top of the results list as possible. If I think Fox News is nothing but a bunch of idiotic, anti-intellectual, hypocritical shills and don't place any value in their results, then returning them at the top is a horrendous waste of my time.

        We should expose ourselves to a large variety of sources and influences, but it has to be by choice. I don't want anybody forcing it on me or deciding what those sources are.

        • Re:Derhythmed (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:30AM (#36139428) Journal

          Their job to return the results a user is most likely to be interested in,

          No! Their job is to return the results most relevant to the query. If two people making the same query get different results, they are failing badly!

        • Of course the danger with this sort of filtering is when I am looking up a topic trying to find what the other side is saying and it doesn't occur to me to correct my search entry for that. Now that I think about it, that probably explains why I have so much trouble finding the original article on certain topics, Google is filtering to give me articles from sources which tend to agree with me and the original article I am looking for is in a source that I tend to disagree with. It is interesting that they d
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Between Google using "correct" algorithms, COICA meting into the PROTECT IP act to remove all traces of a site - what is going to be found?
      DMCA safe harbor provisions are still in place but will the PROTECT IP act lets sign of infringement be used more in court?
      Your comfort zone is what you will watch an ad for most of the time and a guess what will be found more and more ... better ads on sites you like.
      Any other content will drop off fast, never to be found again as the ad funded search is working just
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      The algorithm does not know what political views you hold, it only knows what you choose to read.
      If you want to read opposing views, you should occasionally click on articles with opposing views.
      Apparently, not that many people (including the speaker) are really interrested in opposing views.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:24PM (#36137262)

    Especially considering the natural tendency to discard information that is in contradiction to ones personal views on the world. If the actual inputs are then skewed to support that view, then it just gets even more extreme as a person tends to discard the more moderate views in favor of more extreme ones.

    • Also seems like it's become impolite to disagree with people in your bubble. It's OK to agree, but if you disagree, you're supposed to remain silent. Same effect, but with the added bonus of breeding apathy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not that I care or anything, but you're wrong.

      • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:13AM (#36137452)
        Unfortunately I've seen too much of this. One of the nice things about slashdot is actually the fact that the readers are not segregated politically. It's clearly not a typical political cross-section, but it's diverse enough where it's possible to politely disagree - or defend yourself with hot grits.
        • Self-filter Bubble (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:39AM (#36137598) Journal

          One of the nice things about slashdot is actually the fact that the readers are not segregated politically.

          True, but the more important thing, I think, is that over the years I have often (but not always) discovered that opposing ideas I find on Slashdot have some merit behind them. Hence when someone says something I think it wrong I will often trust it enough to check into it a little and see whether I need to re-evaluate my position. This is why I like Slashdot.

          However when reading some random website and encountering something contradictory I am far more likely to assume that the author was some random idiot that doesn't understand what they are talking about than I am to re-evaluate my position simply because experience has shown that this is the most probable case. Hence I would argue that the biggest problem is not so much a "filter bubble" but more that when you hear a dissenting voice you are unlikely to believe it because you do not trust it to be right...although I suppose you could call that a self-filter bubble.

          • by rrohbeck (944847)

            Thank goodness Slashdot has a somewhat informed audience so even opposing standpoints are articulated in a way that you can discuss and that may even give you some insight into that opinion. Most other sites (CNN, USA Today etc) are moron cesspools by comparison.

          • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday May 16, 2011 @04:59AM (#36138366) Journal

            [T]he more important thing, I think, is that over the years I have often (but not always) discovered that opposing ideas I find on Slashdot have some merit behind them. Hence when someone says something I think it wrong I will often trust it enough to check into it a little and see whether I need to re-evaluate my position. This is why I like Slashdot.

            The reason I like slashdot is because there is a larger than normal proportion of usesr (such as yourself) who at least attempt to practice the most important yet most difficult part of being a genuine skeptic, ie: self-skepticisim.

        • by blahplusplus (757119) on Monday May 16, 2011 @02:42AM (#36138040)

          "One of the nice things about slashdot is actually the fact that the readers are not segregated politically."

          Yes slashdot is segregated politically at least when it comes to mods. Most of them have american viewpoints (i.e. pro capitalist, pro free market, pro libertarian, anti-left). Slashdot is heavily weighted towards americanized views of things.

          • pro libertarian, anti-left). Slashdot is heavily weighted towards americanized views of things.

            Oh, really? Every time someone mentions libertarianism, you get some ass hat mentioning Somalia as a libertarian paradise, hardly what I would call pro libertarian. Anti-left? That hasn't been true since 2000. There's a reason this place is called Kosdot by long time readers.

        • As someone who works for the MPAA, likes using IE6 and having my junk touched by the TSA, I find slashdot very one sided.

      • by Mandrel (765308)

        Also seems like it's become impolite to disagree with people in your bubble. It's OK to agree, but if you disagree, you're supposed to remain silent.

        You're quite right. Criticize something, no matter how constructively, and you're a "hater". Clicking the "Dislike" button on a YouTube video is regarded as a hostile act.

    • Would it exacerbate the problem, or merely hide it? Discarding information that contradicts currently held beliefs is natural enough that most people aren't aware of it, even without personalized search algorithms. I think the bigger issue is the ready availability of like-minded communities that will reinforce your beliefes, no matter how outrageous and outlandish they are.

      • by jd (1658)

        Precisely. The only solution I can think of is for education and culture to hammer away at the walls. If the barriers never get a chance to solidify, but always remain at least a little fluid, then other mechanisms for reconciling beyond petty rejection must be developed. You don't need to come up with the perfect solution, you need only force the brains of others to do so.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        That in combo with populist "direction" of politics, resulting in those that shout the highest get to set policy even if it means collectively diving off a cliff.

      • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:36AM (#36137578) Homepage Journal

        Would it exacerbate the problem, or merely hide it? Discarding information that contradicts currently held beliefs is natural enough that most people aren't aware of it, even without personalized search algorithms. I think the bigger issue is the ready availability of like-minded communities that will reinforce your beliefes, no matter how outrageous and outlandish they are.

        In his presentation he gave an interesting example. He says he leans liberal, but has conservative friends in facebook, because he's interested in their viewpoint. Then he started noticing that he stopped seeing news links from his conservative friends because the facebook algorithm noticed he didn't click on them. Basically, despite saying that he's interested in the opposing viewpoint, he actually isn't, and was filtering the information himself. The algorithm merely made it transparent and more convenient. Nothing actually changed about the information he was consuming.

        It is a problem that people tend to ignore information when it goes against their preconceived notions, but it's not a problem that technology does what we want it to do. If a website kept bombarding me with stories that I didn't want to see, I'd stop visiting it, I wouldn't suddenly start reading those stories.

        On second thought, I'm reminded of every April 1st on slashdot, and how every story is bombarded by comments from idiots saying how much they hate slashdot on April Fools' day, and yet they don't seem to leave even for that one day. They keep reading every story and then talking about how much they hate it. Maybe you can make people read what they don't want to read after all...

        • Not clicking on them doesn't mean you're not interacting with them. Here's an example: there's a bunch of /. articles where I just read the summary of the article on the front page, without clicking through to read the comments.

          Does that mean I want slashdot to stop showing me story summaries in the genres I'm not actively clicking on? No, absolutely not.

          • Not clicking on them doesn't mean you're not interacting with them. Here's an example: there's a bunch of /. articles where I just read the summary of the article on the front page, without clicking through to read the comments.

            Does that mean I want slashdot to stop showing me story summaries in the genres I'm not actively clicking on? No, absolutely not.

            Are you sure? That depends on how sophisticated the algorithm is. After all, you did say the front page. Why aren't you browsing the firehose? Because the info you receive is already plenty filtered, it just so happens that it's not filtered in a personalized fashion. For all you know, a personalized front page would mean that a whole lot more articles interesting to you would show up that were submitted to the firehose but never would have made it to the front page under the current system.

            Generally s

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          This entire debate assumes that it is impossible to deliver news without bias. Every story has to have a liberal or conservative slant. I disagree, it is entirely possible to report simply the known facts. The reader can then reach their own conclusions.

          Of course the media won't do that because dry facts don't get clicks or sell papers. The BBC used to do it but in the past decade has changed to opinion and analysis instead of mere reporting. As an example take how political speeches are presented. Once upo

          • by BZ (40346)

            Note that even if you just stick to reporting "known facts" your choice of which exact facts to report will nearly always bias the reporting. And you can't report "all the facts", because you have limited time.

        • by Monoman (8745)

          I usually don't click on external links on sites like FB. I tend to copy/paste links into another tab so I can see the URL. Just an odd habit of mine after seeing the many ways to goatse/rickroll people.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      So the decision to watch one channel over the other has moved to cyberspace? Color me shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

      Next, you'll tell me people are self-selecting their tv channels, or friends. Lord help us if people can select their friends.

      Or religions, that would be bad.

  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintiumNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:34PM (#36137304)

    is this post filtered? hello? ha looow?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:35PM (#36137308)
    I'm bombarded with the opposing view constantly. Because most all of the media is biased towards the Left in this country, and any attempt to represent the majority opinions (Conservatives - just check the Battleground Poll, question D3) is met with howls of protest and ad hominem attack. I have to actively seek news and information that represents my views because none of the major services ever send it to me. This article is mostly disinformation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737)

      any attempt to represent the majority opinions (Conservatives - just check the Battleground Poll, question D3) is met with howls of protest and ad hominem attack.

      But what branch of "conservatives" are you seeking the opinion of? Rational ones, or the nutty Fox News/Free Republic/Breitbart kind whose existence is defined not by conservatism but preying on people by spreading lies, half truths, and blind worship of a specific political party?

      There are valid "Conservative" opinions out there, but they are by f

      • by dbc (135354) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:37AM (#36137584)

        Actually, the thing that is most hurting political discourse in the USA is that the nutter branches on *both* the left and the right are controlling the conversation... er... shouting match. I'm tired of the nutter left's frothing, angry, invective that is targeted at anyone who disagree with them. And I'm tired of the right's white-washing of the subtle complexities in the problems that we face. Political discussions have become a discourteous shouting match between pseudo-intellectuals on the left and anti-intellectuals on the right. Where has thought gone?

        Fortunately, I have discovered a reliable filter to identify nutters. Present raw data and see how people react. If the person gets angry, it says volumes about the person and their agenda. Raw data has no agenda. A person who has a non-linear, non-thoughtful response to raw data should be avoided like toxic waste.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday May 16, 2011 @01:19AM (#36137732)

          That poses the problem of what raw data properly represents the problem at hand. Ideology tries to boils down the complexity of real systems to a single ideological approach to solving them. It's not that real data is bad, only that real data requires years of research and multiple PhD's to grasp to any degree, and even then the best you have is an understanding of what the data says, not what good policy is about the data.

          As a simple example, one can fairly easily find statistics on how much the US spends per capita on healthcare (vs other countries), as a percent of GDP, etc... and then health outcomes. Ok.. so the system is bad, raw data proves a point but provides no solution, since the questions is 'what should the healthcare system be' not 'what should it not be'. Good job proving the system is bad. Politics and ideology is 'what system should we implement, how do we massage that into a system we can implement, and how many votes will it get/cost me?'

          The economy is another great example. You have GDP, GDP/c, median incomes, gini indices, etc. You can look at real data about what other countries do to. But there are a plethora of experts with PhD's in economics who can't agree on what a good gini index is, or how to get to whatever a good number is. So what does look at the raw data get you exactly? An opportunity for 4 years of poorly paid research to earn a doctorate which shows you know more about the problem than the average bloke, but not how to fix it.

          And that assumes real data exists for your problem. Which, in many cases, it doesn't (the US wealth gap for example doesn't really map to other historical situations if you are trying to ask the question 'why', as it ties in deeply to foreign ownership and investment, education etc.). Data can guide an ideological approach, but by itself raw data rarely maps to implementable policies in anything other than an ideologically biased fashion.

        • by Loopy (41728)

          Anti-intellectuals on the right? Honey, I grew up in Louisiana where anti-intellectualism is a secondary religion, and I've yet to meet one of those that voted republican/independent or called themselves right/conservative.

        • Re:I'm bombarded.... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by coaxial (28297) on Monday May 16, 2011 @02:36AM (#36138026) Homepage

          What nutty group on the left is controlling the conversation? Seriously. Who?

          Have not noticed how far to the kooky right the "center" of contemporary political discourse has come? Even a recent Pew Research poll [people-press.org] (click: "politics and elections," then "support for compromise") showed that 70% of "solid liberals" (supposedly the leftmost group) wanted to compromise with those they disagreed with, while 79% of "staunch conservatives" (the rightmost group) wanted to "stick to their positions." You can see the political ratchet right there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by f3r (1653221)

          "...nutter branches on *both* the left and..."

          Lol. Left in the US? that's so much fun....even in Europe you have a hard time to find the left. We are so used that capitalism 'works well' during the last decades that we forgot what the Left is.

    • Biz owns media.. biz owns govt. Its not good business to try and limit biz. You will always hear about how much more we need and never in good terms how much less we need.

      Nothing personal..its just biz.
    • You're modded Funny, so I'm glad most people got that this was sarcasm, but for those who don't, conservative opinion has become the norm, at least in American major news outlets. Conservatives dominate cable news (Fox is the most watched), radio (a dozen or so popular conservative opinion shows with a greater audience than anything the left has), print (what's left of print anyway, The Wall Street Journal, NYT is now also owned by News Corp.), the internet (Drudge, et al). The insanity is that despite alm
    • by larkost (79011) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:38AM (#36137594)

      I know that media orgainizations that describe themselves as "conservaive" love to paint everyone else as "liberal" or "left", but that is just not the case, and it seems you have fallen into their trap of viewig life as polar ("liberal" vs. "conservative"). That polarized view is nearly antithtical to the ideal of democracy, especially democracy as espoused by the framers of our Constitution. To quote Tommas Jefferson:

      ". . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."

      The "main stream" media has been deliberately neutral for a very long time (despite having overwhelming "conservative" ownership). We have not had truely polarized mainstream media since William Randolph Hurst was alive and in control of a lot of the media. Note that this stands in stark contrast to the media in Europe, where party affiliation is usually blatantly obvious to all concerned (see Silvio Berlusconi's massive ownership in the Italian new media).

      Both durring Hurst's lifetime, as well as in Europe today you see poitics played as a "old boys club" (see the current German Wutbürger movements) with people falling into parties with wide political moats between them. The US system in contrast has historically had two main partites that mostly share the same political ideology, and work very hard to demonstrate their differences on a limited number of areas, with many of their party members holding some views (and voting for those views) in direct contradition to their partie's political planks. To me the latter is a healthy democracy that has had time to come to a gerneral concensus about things.

      Fox News and "talk radio" (both sides, but talk radio is dominated by "conservatives") seem to want to take us back to the "bad old days" where facts don't matter. As an example Fox News viewers have been repeatedly found to think that weapons of mass destruction were found durring the Iraq invation thus justifying the invation. 33% of regular Fox viewers reported this as fact. And then we have the underhanded "we don't know" reporting about Predident Obama's place of birth. We were long past the point where there was legitmate cause for discussion on that issue long before the election took place. Yet the Fox "News" channel kept that flame burning. This blatent focus on patizenship at the expense of truely informing their viewership is underhanded, shamefull, and toally destructive to a working democracy.

      Don't ask news organizations to present "news and information that represents my views", because that is propoganda. Ask them to diligently and ernestly report news as factually and hosnestly as they can. Those two requests are diametriaclly opposed. It is sad to see a political movement who couches their idology so much on the ideas of the founders of this country (the Tea Party), so massivly get the basic ideas of those same men so wrong.

      • Re:I'm bombarded.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WarwickRyan (780794) on Monday May 16, 2011 @02:18AM (#36137952)

        A couple of points:

        1) You can't really group "Europe" together like that. Sure, in countries such as Germany, Italy and The Netherlands you see parties which are closer to their idiologic roots than in the US. But in the UK that's not the case: there are but two real parties (the liberals have in the last year proven themselves pointless), and they're fairly similar policy wise.

        2) A lot of Western Europe (Germany, Italy, Netherlands etc) have many differing political parties getting together to form coalition governments. This is why you see media targeting specific niches. Here in Netherlands we've got free-market, socialist, communist, pseudo-fascist, green & animal parties.

        3) "Europe" (the EU) is similar in size to "America". If we compare them politically at that level (i.e. EU vs US) then they're not really that different. Except the average European has less of a say in who, exactly gets to represent them, and the EU has a lot less power over the member countries than Washington does over the States.

        • by delinear (991444)

          But in the UK that's not the case: there are but two real parties (the liberals have in the last year proven themselves pointless), and they're fairly similar policy wise.

          Amen to that. Our choice is basically between the group of people who want to give all the power to their friends in government at the expense of the populace and the group of people who want to give all the power to their friends in the private sector at the expense of the populace. Neither are interested in true democracy or the will of the people (see the sham referendum on the voting system recently for evidence - our only choices are either the old broken system or a different but equally broken system

      • by wrook (134116) on Monday May 16, 2011 @02:21AM (#36137958) Homepage

        It's a funny thing. I agree with you that the mainstream media portrays a mostly consistent message. I also agree with you that the two main parties "mostly share the same political ideology, and work very hard to demonstrate their differences on a limited number of areas". But I kind of get lost after that.

        I'm not an American, so my perspective may be skewed, but I see American media as not being neutral per se. I see them as following the same political ideology that both of the main parties do. From the perspective of portraying party agenda, I suppose that is neutral. But I tend to notice a definite American ideological bias in the reporting. No reporting can be truly neutral, but especially for foreign affairs issues, the media portrays issues without an attempt to explain opposing points of view. This isn't neutral from my perspective.

        What is even more interesting is when discussing the few issues in which the two parties diverge, the media tends to present a polarised view without actually taking sides. Well, in fairness to the OP, I often feel that the Democrat side of the issue is often portrayed in a somewhat softer light. But like you say, it's not anything like reporting in some other countries. Both sides are portrayed to some extent. However, they are portrayed in such a way as if they are polar opposites. It's like there are only two solutions to everything: the Democrat way and the Republican way. It not only makes it appear that the two sides are much farther apart than I think they are, but that there can't possibly be any other solution than those two.

        When I discuss politics with my American friends I always have to preface the discussion with a definition of right and left. Their view of left is still way over into the right for me. If I say that I don't agree with one point of view, I get a huge amount of grief about how the other party has ruined whatever it is we're talking about. But if I say that I don't agree with something both parties agree on people often stare at me like I must be completely insane.

        Coming back to the point, I often find that Americans are already getting this filtered media where they are only presented with issues that the two parties disagree on. They enjoy this view because it is simple, fits their preconceived notions of the world, but still gives them something to argue about. If I am very cynical I might even say that it gives them the illusion of choice at election time.

        Of course, I am also biased and I am presented with news conforming to my views and confirming my biases. What made me interested about your post was that we both viewed the starting conditions similarly and yet came to dramatically different conclusions, probably based on those biases. Very interesting, indeed.

  • Why Not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:42PM (#36137340)

    They talk about this like it's a bad thing, but why would I, as a member of $Ideology_1 want to waste my time listening to the lies of $Ideology2..N?

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:57PM (#36137384)
    I wish I could view Slashdot via a filter bubble that would omit or correct dupes, slashvertisements, blogspam and obvious spelling mistakes.
  • If being constantly bombarded by birth theories is what's required of me to be a reader of the "free press", I think I'll just pick up a subscription to Pravda, thanks.

    • by jd (1658)

      You are bombarded because you haven't developed these bubbles yet.

      I dislike the terms "information bubble" or "filter bubble". These are much more akin to virtual private networks or virtual circuits, in that the information is physically in the same space but logically seperated. Only those belonging to that specific virtual network can observe what is on it, with most people belonging to just one virtual network.

      Most Slashdotters will have, at the very least, set up a switch. A switch prevents your LAN fr

  • ... is a dissenting view on things. There is no point in my opinion reading stuff I already know (or think I know).

  • This is only an issue when it is invisible, or out of your control. When I watch a trashy movie, I want a filter on everything else. When I go to news feeds, social sites, I want a challenge, many do not. they just want to not be bored. All this is only a problem if one treats Google, Fbook etc as being a 'true' and 'correct' view of the world. any monoply supply leads to this kind of problem.

    The issue here is that these big algorythms are actually tuned to collect and hold and direct attention of use

  • by swell (195815) <jabberwock AT poetic DOT com> on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:01AM (#36137402)

    You aren't labeled.

    Yes I'm sure that many secretly like to be labeled. Part of the social thing I suppose. Can't blame the web sites for that.

    "Well I'm alone, I've got to clone" -Barney

  • Get spammed by what someone think everyone should know? (sales offers, political agendas, government agencies, even facebook trying to discredit google campaign fits there) Or should i get buried by the massive amount of daily information that appears anywhere that someone thinks that is important? At some point, something or someone must decide what i couid be interested in or not, be my own activity, or of a somewhat bigger group. What is being filtered right now matches that definition. And there will fa
  • While you might be happy that your preferred liberal or conservative news hits you, you'll never get to see the converse. This is because Google, Facebook, newspaper sites and even Netflix filter what hits you before you get to see it. And since they give you what you want, you never see the opposing viewpoints or step outside your comfort zone. It amounts to a claim of censorship through personalization and now that every site does it, it's commingle a problem.

    This would be a pretty avant-garde line of thinking if there hadn't been an entire book written about it nine years ago [princeton.edu] ...

  • by poity (465672) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:17AM (#36137478)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_polarization#The_Internet [wikipedia.org]
    We though greater connectivity would broaden our horizons, but it has only made us more narrow minded. And we have only ourselves to blame. I feel the way to combat this is to go outside (gasp) and meet/befriend local people of various backgrounds, and to seek to empathize more and to judge less. I know being judgmental is a rather common bad habit for for self-professed "nerds", and one that's hard to walk away from, but dammit please just try. Society has been going down this slippery slope for quite some time now and it will get worse the more we let the current carry us.

  • Additional to my adblocking I want filters that remove Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan from all my pages.

  • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:18AM (#36137488)

    Having these filters as an option is a good thing; that's just a tool you can use to refine a search.

    Having them on by default and invisible (or obfuscated) is not. In this case, information is being hidden from searchers who may not even realize that filtering is taking place.

    The TED page for the speech [ted.com] has a transcript for those who don't have sound, or just don't want to sit through a nine-minute video.

    • by uncadonna (85026)

      Yes. Clippy lives!

      I found Facebook absolutely and infuriatingly unusable until somebody pointed out that you can route around its filtering with the "Most Recent" link which simply queues up anything you might be interested in sequentially.

      Somehow Google is not so obviously enervating, but I agree that we should be able to turn off its helpfulness and force it to a user-neutral search sometimes.

  • Pariser assumes that the human race is mostly comprised of truly open-minded freethinkers who not only don't mind having their current views - theories? - challenged, they actually relish it on occasion. Sound familiar? Kinda like the Scientific Method?

    Pariser is being humorously optimistic. Most people are not like this, for precisely the same reasons that we have political parties and most people aren't scientists practicing the Method every day. Most people WANT what such filter bubbles would give th

  • It would be useful to have systems which automatically compare news stories on the same subject and note similarities and differences. Osama bin Laden dead? Checking... CNN. Yes. Fox News. Yes. Al-Jazeera - Yes. China Daily - Yes. Russia Today - Yes. Dawn (Pakistan) Yes. Asharq Al-Awsat - Yes. Reuters quote of statement by al-Queda - Yes. Conclusion: dead.

  • Simple confirmation bias means even if people get information from all points of view they still manage to reinforce their existing beliefs.

    Might as well speed it up a little.

  • The thinking man... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet AT got DOT net> on Monday May 16, 2011 @12:44AM (#36137620) Journal

    The human animal is designed to filter information. You have billions of nerve endings pouring information into your brain, and it does a brilliant job of consolidating that information into a general perception of physical reality which is still further pared down by attention, belief, expectation, focus, and emotional state. At any given moment you are present to some infinitesimal amount of truth limited by time, space, and your state of mind. To presume that any point of view has more that a circumstantial amount of real truth in it is hubris on the verge of egomania. Plato's Cave should be taught to kindergarteners, and the lesson reinforced at every grade until achieving one's doctoral degree.

    Perhaps then, we might finally put an end to people who so committedly believe their own point of view and further feel obligated to shove that belief down the throats of others. That goes for positions on the left, right, and stranger points not on the standard plane of sociopolitics.

    A wise soul would surround him/herself with people from many walks and perspectives. Read writing from desperate perspectives. Take everything with a grain of salt. Bring rigorous logic, critical thought and honest skepticism to everything one hears, sees and reads. It takes genuine rigor to manage a healthy intellectual diet. Even more these days when most of the common forms of information and media have fallen into the hands to the same Plutocrats and Corporate Thugs who've worked so diligently to hijack our government. Disagreement is healthy. So is debate. Its only through the process of ideas and perspectives banging up against one another and subjecting our ideas to broad inquiry that any meaningful truth may be discovered.

    If you live in a filter bubble, you poison yourself with intellectual monoculture. Monoculture is inherently unstable, unsustainable and doomed to collapse. Challenge yourself, assume you are mistaken, and look for evidence to prove it. You will find it. There is always evidence to support antithesis. When you can own that there are countless sides to any argument, you can actually begin to pursue the truth as is it, not just an intellectual self justification. The truth is hardly ever, easy, simple or exactly what you expect or believe. Its only advantage is that it is in fact the truth. Pursuing truth demands courage and dedication, perhaps that's why there are so few people who've dedicated themselves to finding truth, and why they're so revered.

    • by Rakishi (759894) on Monday May 16, 2011 @01:38AM (#36137816)

      A reader of Less Wrong by any chance? If not I recommend you look into it.

      I agree with your points as a philosophical ideal but I just don't think they'd ever work for more than a niche number of people.

      Plato's Cave should be taught to kindergarteners, and the lesson reinforced at every grade until achieving one's doctoral degree.

      And most people wouldn't comprehend it or they'd draw the wrong conclusion from it. Remember, half of the world has an IQ under 100. I suspect many other are simply not wired for properly comprehending it although I can't be certain (if religion is due to genetics for example *shrug*). And blind belief is reassuring, we do not wish to be wrong and not seeing the counter-argument achieves that. As you said it requires rigor and, frankly, just look at the average American.

      Monoculture is inherently unstable, unsustainable and doomed to collapse.

      But until it does it will overcome and consume anything in it's way. Not always but often enough especially if it's not against another monoculture. That is the power of blind belief. It doesn't pause or stop or redirect or reconsider. Eventually it will die but the alternatives won't be around to see it.

  • There was this guy on a forum and I was trying to find him some introductory links on soft/fake raid. But google only presented me advanced and technical results... I had to get behind another IP to find the entry-level information. I suppose google has a good grip on me - i have had a static IP for some years now, with mostly just one browser signature around, and on top of that I'm usually logged in to the google account. I do not have much of a problem with that - personalised results really are a time-s

  • People have always filtered their sources of news. This goes back to at least the 19th century. Basically, as literacy became widespread, the phenomenon of self-filtering became widespread. I'm sure it also existed before widespread literacy, but we don't have written records of how illiterate people got their information in ancient Sumeria.

    In the 19th century, people in the US and Britain typically subscribed to newspapers that were affiliated with a political party they agreed with, or that had an editori

  • I think people (at least people without actual mental disorders) have a bias against extreme points of view.

    Just as a disclosure, I am currently pretty far on the right of the spectrum so feel free to circle the mental wagons if you are on the left. I do like FOX. But I could never sit through Rush Limbaugh. Nor can I hear Hannity without catching myself thinking that this guy only survives on partisan hackery. He may brake 1 or 2 stories of actual importance per year, but that's not enough to justify a

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