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The Rise of Filter Bubbles

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the sound-of-your-own-voice dept.

Censorship 408

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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408 comments

Derhythmed (3)

Rotworm (649729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137256)

"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 (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

Rotworm (649729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137300)

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 (3, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Derhythmed (2)

priceslasher (2102064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137420)

In such instances the algorithm will detect that you are without bias and not filter accordingly?

Re:Derhythmed (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137358)

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 fine.

Definitely a serious problem (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (4, Interesting)

Alternate Interior (725192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137312)

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:Definitely a serious problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137372)

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

Re:Definitely a serious problem (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137382)

The key to those situations is to have a strong enough rapport and/or enough in common with the circle of friends to be able to voice a dissenting opinion. The sympathetic others may chuckle or be silent because they don't want to risk looking "uncool," but they will appreciate it nonetheless. Nothing is worse than monotony, even among the most like-minded folks.

One of the most time-honored ways to be "cool" is to disrespect authority. It doesn't matter if you like breadboarding 555 timers or reading manga while your circle of friends are thugs or jocks. Do you at least enjoy sucking down joints and beers before running for the hills when the cops raid the party? Do you have a disdain for hand-raising snitches? You're in.

Are you one of those kids who always did what mommy and daddy told them to do, and tell the teacher or boss why others are bad because they don't go to church every Sunday? You will be universally hated and rightfully beaten.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137706)

So while rebelling against authority is a positive trait, rebelling against your peers (or horror of horrors, making them feel inferior) makes you a scumbag. This has been the truth throughout history.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137598)

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.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137376)

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.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137446)

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.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137486)

You guys want furries to run around everywhere?

Re:Definitely a serious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137514)

Yup. From the distance more than five meters (sorry, 16ft) they are cute.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137504)

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.

That's what Pariser described (5, Interesting)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137578)

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...

Re:That's what Pariser described (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137688)

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.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137462)

This would be basically Google transforming itself into a personal propaganda tool that designed to affirm the personal believes of each user, therefore, amplifying them; and destroying the market place of ideas.....

That's as anti-free-speech as it gets on Google's part. Such a thing should be deplored, if they start filtering in that manner, it would mean that Google has become evil.

Re:Definitely a serious problem (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137652)

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.

I'm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137270)

I'm "commingle" too in a few minutes.

And your social circle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137280)

May also reflect and reinforce your beliefs. What else is new? That's why going out into the real world or college or a new location can be so jarring.

Not just online filters.... (1)

chevman (786211) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137296)

But in real life too!

We grow up in neighborhoods with other people like us, go to schools with kids like us, who have parents that make about the same amount of money as our parents.

We have similar political leanings, drive similar cars, eat similar food.

I'm noticing a pattern here...

Re:Not just online filters.... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137332)

We have similar political leanings

Really? My family is a counter-example to that.

Re:Not just online filters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137406)

Really? My family is a counter-example to that.

Doubt it. Your entire definition of a political leaning is shaped by your environment. So while you may think your brother is a die-hard conservative and you are liberal, your definition of those terms isn't the same as someone growing up in a ghetto or in a chinatown or litle odessa or anywhere else with significantly different societal norms.

Re:Not just online filters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137496)

And what about people who grew up in multiple places, each very different? That was my childhood. Moved around all across the world between vastly different cultures and societies in anything from large cities to small villages, living in nice peaceful environments to areas where drug dealers and hookers stood on every corner and getting shot or stabbed was an everyday risk.

You are thinking only of people who lived in one place for their entire life.

is anybody out there? (3, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137304)

is this post filtered? hello? ha looow?

Re:is anybody out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137728)

I am happy in my bubble...

I'm bombarded.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:I'm bombarded.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137330)

Oh....fucking...bull...shit.
The "left-wing media" is a lie and always has been.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137356)

Oh please. Fox News is skewed far enough to the Right to more than make up for any perceived bias in the rest of the media combined.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137364)

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 far drowned out by the loud and very politically active nutter branch that calls themselves "conservative."

Re:I'm bombarded.... (5, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137662)

The word you two are searching is either "neocon", "Cathoilban" or "fascists". I don't know which, since I can hardly tell them apart. ;)

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137366)

with howls of protest and ad hominem attack.

AHHHHH you're an idiot.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137454)

i laughed

Re:I'm bombarded.... (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137508)

I'm bombarded with the opposing view constantly. [...] I have to actively seek news and information that represents my views...

Look on the bright side. The fact that you don't have to do a thing to become well-versed in the opposition's arguments for things, means that being politically sheltered and ignorant is practically beyond the realm of possibility for you. My sister for example is a solid Left-winger and doesn't have the first clue what are the purported bases the Right gives for the positions it takes. It's just too hard (in relation to how much she cares to do so) to seek such out. (Well, prior to the emergence of FNC as a mainstream media source, that is.) You're better off in the sense that you don't have to lift a finger to find out about that which you aren't already naturally driven to seek.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137538)

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.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137682)

People own businesses and people own the government. I'm not sure why this overlap engenders surprise and outrage, although I'm well aware of the Slashdot tendency to try to dehumanize businesspeople.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137544)

Not to worry, dear AC. Your darling conservative viewpoint is found in the subtext of all societal interactions.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (2)

myotheridislower (2144830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137560)

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 almost complete blanket control of every media outlet in the nation, they repeat the lie that conservative views are oppressed so often and so urgently that many people fall for it. It's akin to Christians in the US (the vast majority of people) complaining that they are an oppressed minority beset on all sides by various powerful groups that are actively seeking their persecution. It's just not happening.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137570)

> I'm bombarded with the opposing view constantly

That's only because you're wrong.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137580)

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.

Turn on AM Radio. You can drown in your Far Right Crap. Conservative is synonymous with ``What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine!''

Re:I'm bombarded.... (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137648)

You can drown in your Far Right Crap. Conservative is synonymous with ``What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine!

Wow! It's not often that you come across a statement which is exactly half right and exactly half wrong. How you managed both in 1 sentence is completely blowing me away.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (0)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137690)

Conservative is synonymous with ``What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine!''

Liberal just seems to get rid of the first part.

Re:I'm bombarded.... (4, Insightful)

larkost (79011) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Fairness doctrine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137314)

Shouldn't that apply to individuals too? I mean, gosh not getting both sides of the story, shouldn't the government step in and make sure you get what they feel you REALLY need to see.?

Re:Fairness doctrine? (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137388)

...shouldn't the government step in and make sure you get what they feel you REALLY need to see.?

They're working on it [fcc.gov]

I remember the summer of 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137324)

The entire US news media seemed to be consumed by the disappearance (later determined to be murder) of Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy in a Washington, DC park, and Congressman Gary Condit who was "personal of interest" in the case because of a rumored extramarital affair with the woman, which Condit neither confirmed nor denied. We had stories on this 24x7 day after day covering every possible angle, including maps of the park, computer forensics, expert panels of pop psychologists, reactions from politicians at all levels, daily tracking of public opinion polls, etc.

Summer came and went. Then one day in early September two jet airliners crashed into the World Trade Center.

Re:I remember the summer of 2001 (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137352)

Really? All I remember from that summer was that we needed to stay away from beaches or else all the man-eating sharks would get us.

Re:I remember the summer of 2001 (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137466)

And what about when Michael Jackson died in the early summer of 2009? TV+Radio became "all Michael Jackson all the time" for a couple of weeks. The web saved my sanity back then.

The point of a search algorithm: Relevant results? (1)

Jontu_Kontar (668824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137334)

I was always under the impression that the point of a using Google, or Yahoo, or Bing was to bring you results relevant to what you're searching for. Are we really wanting search providers to insert non-relevant information into our search results? I personally think that would significantly reduce the utility of their services.

Re:The point of a search algorithm: Relevant resul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137380)

Sorry, just thought of one follow up comment...

Yesterday, I was watching the evening news specifically to see my brother being interviewed after his meeting with one of our State's Senators. The first 5 minutes of the program went by covering an issue with FEMA and then the Awards Ceremony, in which I caught his 15 seconds of fame being interviewed by the news crew. The next 5 minutes covered the opening of a levy in Louisiana and some bit of world news. My first reaction was, "Is there really so little happening in our State that you couldn't fill the entire first 10 minutes with State news?"

Re:The point of a search algorithm: Relevant resul (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137670)

My first reaction was, "Is there really so little happening in our State that you couldn't fill the entire first 10 minutes with State news?"

You are clearly not understanding the economics of news gathering. They can send one reporter to interview someone at the Army Corps of Engineers and get a five minute story which they can feed to every anchor at every affiliate all over the country. In order to cover state news, they would have to have 50 times as many reporters so that they could have 50 different stories instead of just running the same story everywhere. That wouldn't be as profitable, you understand.

Why Not? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Why Not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137410)

Because all Ideologies are full of lies?

Proof of rule 34 ... (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137350)

just by googling - yay! I knew all these hours watching porn weren't a waste of time.

Privacy concerns too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137354)

And the other issue that wasn't brought up is privacy concerns. You can probably infer a lot about someone--perhaps more than they would want to share--by the customized Google search results from a borrowed computer.

Re:Privacy concerns too (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137414)

Would you please stop these "privacy concern" non-issues, Mr. Coward? I'm bored. Nobody cares about your boring fucking life.

commingle a problem (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137384)

I wish I could view Slashdot via a filter bubble that would omit or correct dupes, slashvertisements, blogspam and obvious spelling mistakes.

Re:commingle a problem (3, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137450)

Bubbles tend to be spherical, but you require something more fractal in nature.

Re:commingle a problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137472)

Wouldn't that be the same as about:blank

Re:commingle a problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137528)

No, that would be if you could remove all the leftist content from slashdot.

Re:commingle a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137612)

So if we don't read TFA, and you prefer that filter, what is left?

Oh a broken, buggy message board.

(Yes I still stay here too to hold the belief.)

Re:commingle a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137678)

Just filter out kdawson.

Ouch. :(

Re:commingle a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137696)

As you wish. [about]
You're welcome. :)

Perhaps this isn't a bad thing... (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137392)

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.

Re:Perhaps this isn't a bad thing... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137526)

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 from being flooded with packets by constricting the information that enters the LAN. Nobody thinks of it as a bubble, though.

In the real-world, there's way too much information out there. You'd be drowned in the stuff if you were exposed to it all. So, you set up mental versions of switches, firewalls and VPNs to keep the traffic down to tolerable levels.

This is a Good Thing, if configured correctly. The problem is that extremists, fundamentalists and dogmatists are very good at teaching people to misconfigure their mental networks, whereas the places that are supposed to teach you how to configure brain WANs correctly (schools and civic organizations) either teach you nothing at all or are so badly infiltrated by extremists, fundamentalists and/or dogmatists that they reinforce the very worst practices. This is a Bad Thing.

What I want.. (1)

craznar (710808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137396)

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

good or bad depending. (2)

qwerty8ytrewq (1726472) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137398)

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 users as first priority. Not to hand out accurate info, advice, wisdom, world views etc. I think It is easy to forget that " free " on the net actually means "you pay us with your valuable attention".

This is really interesting stuff... good book that I am reading (too early to review it sorry) http://cliftonchadwick.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/is-the-internet-changing-the-way-you-think-book-review/ [wordpress.com]

Commingle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137400)

Is this kind of like when all your friends misuse the word commingle, and you end up thinking it means something completely different to what it actually means?

surf anonymously (2)

swell (195815) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

People want to be censored? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137412)

Evidently, this is what people like? I for one don't and I'd like some governments (not just the USA, but how about the EU?) to give people an "opt in" for this sort of behavior. Yes, I'm talking legislation here to mandate such an option for all searches. The "don't follow me" tag currently hyped for some browsers hardly scratches the surface of this phenomenon.

I myself stopped using teh goggles and went to duckduckgo as my primary Internet search provider. Only if they don't give me the info I'm looking for, I use teh goggles or M$ search. With those two, I prefer to make my results as anonymous as possible, but it's hard when you're on someone elses link/computer and if you consistently do it on your own with a static IP, it doesn't help a lot...

Alternatives? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137428)

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 fall into that filter bubble scenario. Or maybe worse, some external entity rigging what i should be interested in.

I prefer fair filtering based exclusively in my input over someone/something deciding what is important enough that noone should miss.

Darn you, Autocorrect! (1)

uncadonna (85026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137436)

commingle?

2002 called, it wants its fears back (4, Insightful)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137456)

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] ...

Re:2002 called, it wants its fears back (1)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137468)

Whoops, make that ten years ago; I was looking at the publication date on the paperback edition...

Re:2002 called, it wants its fears back (1)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137556)

Perhaps information about that book didn't make it through his own filter bubble?

Re:2002 called, it wants its fears back (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137572)

There are very, very few new ideas in the world. Especially in places like TED, where the entire goal is to spread ideas to people who are not experts (but like to learn), you will find most of the ideas presented have already been presented elsewhere.

Personally, I think anything that encourages people to think more clearly is a good thing. We can always use more clear thinking (and I apply that to myself as well).

Re:2002 called, it wants its fears back (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137602)

Incidentally, it was also thought of a few years later: Epic 2014 [idorosen.com] (and its updated 2015 version [albinoblacksheep.com] ) mentioned this development in an ambivalent sort of way, though I don't think the author realised just how harmful this process is. Also incidentally, it looks like we're still on track for it. (I'm sure you've heard of this already; just trolling for that good old Insightful karma.)

Re:2002 called, it wants its fears back (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137630)

Even the book would be impressive if mass media that hewed to specific viewpoints/political slant didn't date back to the birth of mass media.

This will never work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137470)

Totally agree, but I don't see the situation getting better .... on a broad scale, the Internet is more like TV, people like what they already know. Sites like Facebook, etc. do so well because you 'feel at home' when you log in.

Confirmation bias, confirmation bias everywhere (4, Interesting)

poity (465672) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

I welcome it (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137480)

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

Visible and Optional v Invisible and On-By-Default (3, Informative)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Visible and Optional v Invisible and On-By-Defa (1)

uncadonna (85026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137518)

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.

Get it myself, thanks (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137512)

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 them; they don't want to be challenged. Most people are not open-minded, even as they doggedly insist they are. They are close-minded, dogmatic, and self-delusional... and they LIKE it that way.

As for those in the minority who do admire the Method and are actually freethinking, they are perfectly equipped to get the opposing, contradictory, unexpected viewpoints themselves. They don't need Pariser or anyone else to use threat of force to compel Google or Facebook to hand it to them on a platter.

Not news. Opinion. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137516)

I'm fairly confident that the majority of people on this website, can discern what is unbiased news, and opinionated reporting.

If I want truth in reporting, I'll watch the actual interview, read the original transcript, or trust an unbiased 1st degree of separation news source that isn't listed in the summary or found . And no. I don't search Google for my news links. I have them memorized. And yes. They do cover every aspect of current civilization.

Re:Not news. Opinion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137586)

I'm fairly confident that the majority of people on this website, can discern what is unbiased news

Yep and they hate it with a passion. ! biased == missed opportunity to fool some people into going along with something that's for their own good but they're just too stupid or weak to willingly accept. Leftist philosophy in a nutshell.

Re:Not news. Opinion. (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137616)

There isn't really such a thing as unbiased news. I've been seeing an effect more and more - perfectly non-biased stories being selected in such a way as to create positive or negative portrayals, all while not actually injecting any bias into the stories themselves. The Drudge Report is a great example. It seems non-biased. I mean, how could it be biased? It links to other sites! Yet, if you take a close look at the stories selected, especially the photo stories... you start to see a pattern.

The real bias in news now is in selection, not confusing opinion with news. Passing off opinion as news does happen, of course, but it is not the real danger. People who watch channels like Fox News already have a decision and want it to be reinforced. It is the covert bias in selection which is a real danger.

Somila Pirates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137548)

I think Google has their algorithm wrong.

When I am trying to find the latest movie or game, I am always getting Somila Pirates sites.

They need to stop filtering out online piracy and let me freaking get the pirated material I am searching for.

Signed CIO of another search engine that does not filter the shit you really want.

Hmm. Opportunity for automated comparison (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137562)

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.

Makes no difference anyway (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137568)

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... (4, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137620)

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.

I did run into a problem with Google... (2)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137632)

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-saver when I'm hunting for myself. But, as has been noted, there are downsides and so there really should be a toggle on the feature.

inevitable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36137656)

These filters, may also be aiding in preventing traffic overloads. My own opinion is against them. Like many of you I prefer to hear/see/realize the whole story and judge intelligently but for most people, they are quite happy to 'looking through rose colored stained glass windows'. Dialing their bandwidth in for efficiency will help keep usage down for us. Ultimately, I wonder how much processor power, electricity, and cooling would be saved by getting rid of non relevant content.

Welcome to the 19th century. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137684)

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 editorial stance they agreed with. Somehow in the late 20th and early 21st century people have gotten the impression that there was something like journalistic impartiality. An impartial source of news, such as Walter Cronkite, was supposed to even-handedly represent "both sides of the story." Wait, what if the story had more than two sides? What if "both" sides meant the USian Republican and Democratic parties, both of which were ready to bomb the world back into the stone age over the Cuban Missile Crisis? What if "both" sides meant the Republican and Democratic parties, both of which were in favor of the Vietnam War? Of the PATRIOT act? Of the second Iraq war?

Thank god we're not still in the age of Walter Cronkite, the Brady Bunch, and all that other groupthink mass-media. People who couldn't think for themselves could never think for themselves. People who can't think for themselves still can't think for themselves. The difference now is that I have more than 12 TV channels' worth of access to information.

i don't think i buy the premise (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137724)

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 program. I would suspect that anyone on the left can make the same statement about Ed Schultz . Although I don't think of him as an angry man. I think of him as a man playing a TV personality of someone who needs medication. It's as hard to be angry at Ed Schultz as it is to be angry at a drunken guy screaming on a street corner. I am sure O'Reilly used to evoke the same reaction from people (he's gotten much milder over the past few years: I am guessing some anger management).

I've said a lot without saying much. So I'll just make the main point I was going for. I think the extreme positions in one's camp only drive people towards the middle. Again, unless the said people have some mental disorders.

By the way, by "extreme" people on the right I do NOT mean Objectivists, Tea Party or Ron Paul voters (not that they don't have their share of extremists, but they are just a tiny minority). These are people with emphasis on specific priorities. Extremists are not the people with emphasis on specific priorities, but the people who don't realize that other priorities exist.

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