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The personalized world on the web. What are filter bubbles?

filter bubble - social media
   Reading time: 5 Minutes

When we are on the web, be it Google or social networks, we only see a tiny fraction of the posts and content that actually exist.

However, this is not because the ads of the search engines and networks are limited, or because only a part is generally available to us.

The fact that we can only see a fraction of the matter is due to the so-called “filter bubble“. Every person who has been on the Internet at some time or another has his or her own personal filter bubble that determines what we see.

But what is a “filter bubble”? A “filter bubble” is the term used to describe the restricted world we encounter on the web, full of prefabricated content and individually prefabricated search results by algorithms. Personal behavior on the Internet, no matter where, is analyzed and filtered so that optimized offers and results can be submitted and suggested to us.

The Internet is huge and to coordinate all the published posts, almost impossible. The coordination is the task of search engines, they are supposed to select the right content for each individual.

A task that would no longer be possible without filtering and algorithms! Until a few years ago, algorithms that selected relevance and quality of content were sufficient for this, but then personalized search factors were added, making further filters necessary. These factors include location, search behavior, keyword search, social network behavior, connections […]

If you now think that only personal interest influences our filter bubble, you are wrong. In the case of Facebook, for example, the commercial interest of the network also influences the filter bubble of the users. Because of this, Facebook is accused by many sides of manipulating its users through the filter bubble. The network vehemently rejects these accusations and is even having a study conducted to refute them.

Personalized advertising is our constant companion in the “filter bubble web world.”

While most users, on the one hand, want to disclose as little personal data as possible, on the other hand, we are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to the content we want to take a closer look at. As a result, we are creating our own filter bubble alongside the algorithm bubble, so that contrary opinions and content hardly have a chance of reaching us. 

The consequence of this: Our field of vision is narrowed enormously!

By foreign-controlled contents our information can be manipulated, thereby it is easier to manipulate also our opinion! But not only by this we can be manipulated, because also our own brain wants to manipulate us again and again.

For the following reason: To know one’s own opinion confirmed again and again and to fade out foreign opinions, or even to condemn, does our ego very good in the short term and has a similar effect, like drugs.

The self-created filter bubble reinforces the feeling of constant anonymous persecution, it makes people distrustful and despondent. At the same time, the sense of entitlement increases, as already mentioned, with regard to pre-filtered content. One example: users are indignant when Google shows them stores in other states under the search term “pizzeria” or Amazon offers them products that are not in their own interest.

The filter bubble has not only existed since the Internet came into existence, but for much longer. It can be said that people have always been manipulated by content and news, as well as by parental education. For example, the “Volksempfänger” is a basis for the enormous success of the National Socialists in the 1930s.

Life without a filter bubble is no longer possible; there are far too many posts and content for that. Without this filtering, search engines could no longer handle the task.

So on the one hand, the filter bubble is ideal and makes sense. On the other hand, however, it is risky and watery dangerous, due to the exclusion of contrary content! Everyone is to a large extent responsible for his filter bubble, it helps the personal opinion formation enormously to exchange oneself also outside of the Internet with others, if possible with contrary opinions, in order to break this filter bubble!

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