Information bubbles, sometimes referred to as filter bubbles, are what occurs when digital services harvest information about our personal preferences and online behaviors and then use that information to send us targeted messaging in return. This might come in the form of an advertisement based on our browsing history, a movie recommendation based on other movies we’ve watched, or a suggestion of someone we might want to be friends with on social media based on friends we have in common. The algorithms that track and filter this information can result in us seeing more and more similar messaging over time, often filtering out information or links that do not align to our personal preferences and behaviors.
10 Ways to Help Pop Information Bubbles
- Be aware that information is being filtered.
- Intentionally seek out opposing viewpoints.
- Seek news from a variety of sources.
- Evaluate the credibility of information sources.
- Be a critical consumer of information and ideas.
- Don’t avoid the hard conversations; engage in them.
- Don’t unfriend everyone who disagrees with you.
- Use ad-blocking browser extensions.
- Use incognito browsing.
- Use search engines like DuckDuckGo that do not track your online activity.
To be good digital citizens, we need to be aware of information (or filter) bubbles so that we are tuned in to the information we are receiving, as well as information we may not be getting, from online searches, social media feeds, and other services. Our students also need to develop awareness and practice in this area. Therefore, when opportunities arise to call attention to information bubbles, we can engage students in conversations about this digital phenomenon. One great place to start is by having them evaluate the quality of resources they find while doing online research.
How can I learn more?
For more information about this topic, explore the following AVID Open Access article: Pop the Filter Bubble.