I think that we don’t see the filter because it is really convenient but when we try to move from another point of view, it becomes obvious.
I have recently moved from Paris to London. For 25 years I was interested in news about the UK as a french man living in Paris but not anymore.
I think that before social media, Internet, digital and co, it was like that :
When you moved to another country : You had local TV, local newspapers and you were aware of local news. When you searched form something, you used the local yellow pages, etc… Even your mails did not follow you, it was expensive to receive LeMonde in the UK.
So even if you wanted to stay informed of the news of your home country, you had at the same time to be aware of the local news. You had no choice.
But now :
For the important stuff, I have my apps on my iPad, my my subscriptions on Youtube, Flipboard, my RSS feeds, the newsletters, … all about news in France and they all followed me. For the rest I have the news form people on Twitter and Facebook : “If a piece of news is important, they will talk about it.”
It worked perfectly when I was in Paris. I had always received the news I think were important for me, I hadn’t to look for them but when I moved to London, it did not work anymore.
Some of the news that are important to me did not change (my hobbies) and the filter works fine : running, biking, …I still get the news I want. However it is only a small part of the news I need and it is hard to switch because I get my news from people.
It is easy to unsubscribe to newsletters and subscribe to new ones, it is the same as the old model where you chose the newspaper you wanted to read. But it is the model for news anymore and my Facebook friends are not going to stop talking about French news and I don’t want to hide or unfriend them in order not to see the french news. I know that with time I will have more and more british Facebook friends but it will be a long process until I have the right balance.
It is worse on Twitter when I was following a lot of people for Ben & Fakto, to be aware of events in Paris, etc…Those people are not my friends but were my relevant fitler for information. I spent a lot of time to build that. My “following” were filtering the news for me and I had to change a lot of it.
But those are the things I can control, it is harder when you do not control it completely. I tried very hard to explain to Google that I moved and I don’t know if it still hasn’t really understand it. I changed the settings of Google, switched it english and changed my location (I have no secret for Google). But because I use Google Chrome, it still switches to google.fr from time to time and I have results that are not relevant.
But it is hard because I still need sometimes to use the two points of view for work : search as I was in France or UK and I don’t want to use “incognito tabs” as I want to remember it…
The filter bubble is a book by Elie Pariser. Here is what you can read about it on Wikipedia :
A filter bubble is a situation in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behaviour and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. Prime examples are Google’s personalised search results and Facebook’s personalised news stream.
The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in his book by the same name; according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble. Pariser related an example in which one user searched Google for “BP” and got investment news about British Petroleum while another searcher got information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and that the two search results pages were “strikingly different.” The bubble effect may have negative implications for civic discourse, according to Pariser, but there are contrasting views suggesting the effect is minimal and addressable.