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7. The filter bubble

Because of the personalization of the internet, an internet search of the same term by two different people will often bring very different results. We are each increasingly being served not only ads for what we are more likely to want, but also news and information that is familiar and confirms our beliefs. The issue is that we are increasingly unaware of what is being filtered out and why — leaving us each more and more in our own unique and self-reinforcing information bubble. Thus the internet is different for different people, but it is hard for us to see how different our search results are from everyone else’s. The internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see. Eli Pariser writes in The Internet Bubble (Penguin Books, 2012) of the dangers of personalization of the internet, but there is little of what can be done to burst the bubble, or to change the filters that determine what results you get online. Each individual will have to be intentional about broadening the scope of their information gathering in order to find balance and depth.

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