In The Filter Bubble, Pariser makes the claim that we have entered the “era of personalization” on the Internet, and that this personalization is hindering our ability to find new information and ideas. This personalization seems appealing because there is far more information on the Internet than we as individuals can consume, and it provides us with the information that we want and think we need. Many of us long to avoid information that does not directly relate to us, and focus solely on the information that we find interesting. However, personalization creates what Pariser calls a “filter bubble” that keeps us from receiving some information. Since the Internet provides us with the information that we think we want, we have no need to go looking for more, and so any information not provided is neglected.
Pariser mentions that democracy “requires a reliance on shared facts”. That being said, the filter bubble could destroy this idea entirely. The more personalized our Internet experience becomes, the less shared information there will be. While people with the same interests will have similar knowledge and be provided with the same information, there will be huge gaps between these areas of interest where people are not connecting and sharing ideas. Though we want information on what interests us, we need more than just that. We need to be able to receive the information that affects our decisions and our lives, even if it does not relate to what we need. The more filtered our information becomes, the less people will be informed to make good decisions.
The idea of the filter bubble is seen in a unique way in Chapter 3 of Morozov’s Net Delusion. As Pariser says, the filter bubble is keeping people from receiving the information they need to make informed decisions, while providing them with the information they want. Morozov explains that the Russian government knows this, and uses it to their advantage to maintain government support and avoid any political aversion. The Russian government knows that in providing people with what they want — in this case, entertainment in the form of online videos or other sites — helps to keep citizens from voicing opinions about politics or expressing their dissatisfaction with government. Russia is essentially relying on the fact that their citizens are too distracted with their own interests to worry about the ideals of their government. With these interesting distractions provided for them, there is no need to seek out other information.
Pariser mentions that early on, the Internet was seen as the tool that would “erode power” and essentially give citizens the ability to have control in their own government. Do you think that the filter bubble has completely eroded the idea of democracy, or do you think that despite the filter bubble, the Internet has provided citizens with a way to increase their power in government decisions?