Six years after the Upworthy cofounder coined the term “filter bubble,” things are much worse.
In the aftermath of the US election, as pundits blamed highly biased media outlets and fake news stories for Trump’s win, Eli Pariser appeared to be some sort of augur. In 2011, he’d written the book warning that Facebook and Google’s personalization tools would drive us to become ever more partisan by showing us only the news and information with which we already agreed. He called it The Filter Bubble.
Pariser’s warning has become our new reality. We have embraced the phrase he coined to describe the most pernicious effects of social media — the way its algorithms feed each of us information that supports views we already have, and creates the conditions for us to be more susceptible to falsehoods.
I really feel like it’s less about fake news and more about, “Is the truth loud enough?” And is it loud enough, in particular, for a broad population and not just news junkies? Whenever you look at who actually consumes news, it’s such a shockingly tiny chunk of the public as a whole. If the problem is that the truth isn’t loud enough, it points in very different directions than if the problem is that fake news is misleading people.