Personalisation – The Internet Filter Bubble and Facebook

This Ted Talk came from Carole reminding me of a blog I wrote for the Big Bible site about Theological Ghettos.  The way the internet works at the moment disturbs me as it edits out the things it believes I don’t want to see.  Google shows me what I want to see.  An algorithm decides what my world should look like.  Google essentially feeds me pictures of Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu and Eddie Van Halen.  That kind of thing.  Give the people what they want!  And why not?

Facebook recently introduced a change to the way it works.  It has started to push content to your friends when you click “like” or comment upon a post.  I assume this means that every time I click like on a Star Wars meme is is pushed through to some of my friends.  As they are friends with me they must clearly be interested in the same things as I am – this is the logic that Facebook is employing.

This has shattered my internet filter bubble.  The world now looks a little different than before.  In the past week I have discovered that a “friend” of a “friend” likes the EDL.  I’ve seen numerous racist memes.  I’ve discovered that there is a more unpleasant underbelly to the society I am part of.  A less pleasant world that I was happily living without.  No doubt my friends have discovered that I talk about ‘vicar things’ a lot more than they thought previously.

It won’t come as a surprise to you to discover that I am “politically liberal” and so are a large proportion of my friends.  However, Facebook has just let everyone’s guard down.  Everyone is now less able to hide “the real you” from the world of Facebook unless they choose not to engage with it.  Every click potentially outs you as the person who “likes” pictures of fluffy kittens.  Alternatively you may find your more sinister side on display for the world to see as you are “outed” as a secret Belieber.

4 Responses

  1. If Facebook does anything, it highlights how multi-faceted we are. I try (not always sure I succeed) to keep my Facebook content fairly mainstream because my friends are so diverse, I would be bound to upset someone if I really expressed myself as fully as I could. So, out of respect for other people I do try to tone myself down a bit without losing the essence of me. I have long been annoyed by the way that Facebook targets me with all the menopausal woman/ how to lose 3 stone in a week type adverts…these may or may not be relevant, but I actually don’t want to be reminded about it every time I log on to Facebook that I am overweight and ceasing to be fertile some time soon! :-s

  2. But now it’s not what you share but also what you comment on or “like”. Any thoughts you have with like minded people are now public…

  3. its always good to stand by who you are…and if you are embarrassed by what you “like” then perhaps its worth reflecting on why you like it, and indeed if it is a position that you should continue to embrace?

    • It’s not me particularly I’m worried about. I’m happy to own who I am publicly. I don’t try to saturate Facebook with church content in the same way that I’d not saturate it with School stuff when I was a teacher. Quickest and easiest way of boring people. There is nothing worse than a religious bore.

      As I say, it is other peoples content. When a friend uses the voice of reason on a racist meme for example, I am shown the meme. It doesn’t show me their comments unless I click through and search for them.

      So when someone says “I like that guitar” under a Gibson Les Paul I am shown the Les Paul. When someone comments “that’s not cool” underneath a meme advocating burning the Quran I am shown a meme advocating the burning of the Quran. If I want to know whether a friend agrees or disagrees with the burning of the Quran I then have to read through the comments to find what they have said. This has led to trawling 120 EDL comments wondering what is going on with the world and whether I should be ditching a friend.

      To be clear, burning the Quran is not cool!

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