The Social Media Filter Bubble

by Kacey Keegan


In this digital age, it’s difficult to keep up with all the technology advancements.  New technology hits the market daily and older editions are phased out.   Do you remember the song, “Video Killed the Radio Star?” Then GPS replaced the map to navigate our lives. Now we have social media to microblog about our lives and smartphones to answer any question with a few clicks. Well, now the internet is getting smarter as well.

Did you know that every click, share, search, upload, download, tweet, and post you make is being monitored? Technology tracks your interests and builds a personalized database known as the filter bubble. In fact, the internet knows you better than you know yourself.

So, how exactly does the filter bubble work? The filter bubble stores your digital interactions. What information are you searching? What link did you click on and which do you quickly scroll past? What are your demographics? Are you more interested in world affairs or celebrity affairs? All of this information is gathered over time and entered into an algorithm. This algorithm becomes more specialized to your personal interests as your computer gets to know you better.

Google is the trailblazer to this new technology. You and a friend could search the exact same phrase and get entirely different results. In fact, there is no such thing as a standardized Google search anymore. Targeted advertisements also use this information to market products you would likely be interested in based on previous internet searches and links clicked.

Now how does this filter bubble affect social media? Scroll through your Facebook newsfeed. All your friends’ posts, recommended articles, and sponsored ads that have weaseled through the filter are there because Facebook believes you want to see them.

Facebook is the primary social media platform that uses the filter bubble algorithm as a competitive advantage tool to leverage their brand. Using this invisible filter allows Facebook to clean your newsfeed of spam-worthy posts. Twitter was quick to follow Facebook’s lead and has begun personalizing your user experience with sponsored ads and profiles.

Sure, the filter bubble is a time saver. You aren’t burdened by posts you’d consider spam. You can also binge read recommended articles for hours on end. But, realize you are not the one who chooses what is allowed inside your bubble. The World Wide Web continues to stream news, current events, and friends’ social media posts around your personal filter bubble. Now that you are aware of the unseen algorithms tracking your online activity, you can either embrace the efficiency or figure out how to burst your bubble.

What are your thoughts on the filter bubble? Let me know in the comment section below or LinkedIn!