The question of censorship and filtering on the internet is an important topic in todays society. If you watched the TED Talk above from Eli Pariser, you will know that it talks about how web companies are tailoring their search results to fit our personal preferences. He was claiming that we are all trapped in a ‘filtered bubble’ on the internet, without reaching information that could challenge or broaden our world view.
Personally I’m sceptic towards his talk, mainly because in 1915 people didn’t have access to as much information as we do today. We’re presented with a vast ocean of information and so if Google didn’t rank and filter the results would we really find the website we wanted most of the time? Probably not.
As a response to the example he used in his talk, regarding the search query Egypt on Google. It’s very important to note that all of those two people’s previous search queries play a role in this example, because what they searched for in the past determines what kind of information that should be presented. One of the individuals most likely had searched for travel sites and trips whilst the other individual might be more engaged in news etc… Now if they had altered their search results slightly to “Egypt News” or “Egypt Protest,” maybe their search results would have been almost the same?
There are still major web companies, like Twitter and Tumblr, that don’t filter your news feed. Since the users themselves choose the information they want to be exposed to. Therefore to claim that we are all trapped in a “dangerous unintended” filter bubble is simply wrong. From my experience we always have the ability to find the information we’re looking for, we might just have to try a little harder to get it. To say that we are brainwashed as a result of this is foolish and quite frankly ignorant. We shouldn’t always expect information to come to us, but to seek out information ourselves and thereby engaging in information that could potentially challenge or broaden or our world view.