Author:  Soraya Carvajal B., June 27 2017 - In 2010 Eli Pariser began his research on bubble filters thanks to his interest in meeting different people, which would challenge him in his way of thinking. So, trying to keep the exchange of ideas with his conservative and liberal friends, through Facebook, soon noticed that the information and updates, referring to the first, began to disappear from the timeline of his wall in that social network.

This gave rise to his book The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think, in which Pariser notes that the information we see on the Internet, through websites, search engines and social networks, is filtered and edited because these platforms observe our patterns of behavior, the places we connect, the links we open, the news we consume more frequently, our most common searches, among many other things, to offer us customized, custom-made results.

The problem with this situation is that as users we are not aware of what has been edited and, therefore, what we are missing, as well as the obvious control over the results offered and our information possibilities. "This is a passive process because we do not know by what criteria the algorithms, the code, arming the information, what conditions complies with the information that we are allowed to see, the stories we are going to read or what information they are letting go, they just show us that That supposedly or, from its conception, fits with us, but we do not know on what basis they publish the information, or what they are editing."

Thus, after verifying that over the years, connectivity, as well as the attention to platforms such as Google and Facebook, continues to grow and that false news is an increasingly relevant phenomenon, Pariser considers that it is time to work to at a technical level to look for solutions around both veracity and informative diversity. For Pariser, the co-founder of Avaaz and Upworthy,  it is necessary to open greater spaces in the network to consolidate and spread the truth, so as to speak of those existing but invisible realities in the media, "as of the middle class that has disappeared from American news, making us believe that they are not important. "

For this researcher and internet activist, it is important to ask ourselves what would be a world informatively driven by social media? What would our society become? In his opinion, Artificial Intelligence is going to amplify the tendencies of informative personalization, of creation of partial realities and, for that reason, the assumptions and prejudices are a challenge, because "you can pretend that the algorithm is fair, but many times what it does is to strengthen the prejudices.”

For Pariser, some of the keys to combating the phenomenon of bubble filters are:

  1. Research and the introduction of other content on digital platforms, so that they show users information that they probably do not want to see or do not agree with, but that they move away from a univocal view of the world. For this, in addition to the will of the large digital conglomerates, it is important that consumers continue to press for diversity, because social media today has a fundamental role in the contrast of ideas.
  2. Ask us how to use digital platforms to build networks, visions and cross-cutting contacts. It is important to see and know the visions of others, those different from us and our environments, question assumptions and reduce stereotypes.
  3. Look for spaces where we can find respectful, cross-cutting conversations with different ideas. For Pariser a good example is sport forums, non-political spaces where, although not very respectful, people have a shared identity for being a follower of the same team, but in turn, can come into contact with people very different and contrary ideas.
  4. The press must rebuild trust with the citizens, that confidence that has been lost to moving along that blurred line between advertising and information. For Pariser, this can only be achieved from the genuine interest of the media in the needs of the people.

Bubble filters distort the perception of reality

For this author, it is clear that bubble filters limit our perception of reality because the algorithm increases the possibility that we only see information that may interest us, so the more interest we have in politics, the more likely we are to see ads and Information of this type.

"I think bubble filters make it very easy to ignore the problems and suffering of others, they are like glasses of augmented reality, where you can paint a world in which, for example, there are no homeless people, although this does not make that reality ceases to exist.”

Pariser also considers that algorithms can influence because the more familiar we are with a concept, the more comfortable we feel with it, and, in his opinion, in cognitive terms we are driven towards simplicity, towards answers that reaffirm what we think, that reaffirm that we are on the right path, while "learning requires that I be exposed to opposing ideas, challenges, re-evaluating our thinking, which is a fundamental process to understand the world and have new ideas."

That is why, in order to get rid of diffuse areas and false information, we believe, more and more, we should build and give value to the truth, that when stories have passed through a filter they become visible, that they create real stories that are competitive and attractive at an informative level.

In this sense, Pariser shares the idea that the internet has changed the relationship with the communication media because the belief that the media had absolute truth has collapsed, but to the bankruptcy of "truth" is joined the fact that people do not have time to contrast everything, to see where the information comes from, where the truth is and thus choose to say, I do not care. "I believe that the filter bubble scratches wishes for simplicity, belonging and plainness in terms of information and algorithmic decisions reinforcing them."

For Pariser, it is clear that the premise that if you have the power to communicate you have to follow a certain process; it has been displaced because information and stories can now be distributed over the internet without complying with norms or patterns of journalistic behavior. That is why he defends the construction of systems and platforms that incentivize people who are doing good searches and editing information well, because in his opinion, it is a way to support the ethics of the new information keepers.

Pariser admits that, despite the initial resistance to address the debate about partial information, there is currently some interest in large companies about the subject, recognition that something needs to be changed; and engineers are realizing that their work In mathematics has connotations and ethical and political consequences. In addition, people are organizing to ask companies to take this situation more seriously.

This activist also dismisses censorship in social networks as an effective strategy to control false news, believing that people will find other channels to express themselves; and he does not believe that communities disappear, because democracy implies contact, exchange and divergence, but, yes, he believes that standards of behavior should be observed on the platforms: "We must seek a very careful balance, we have to create the idea of what is acceptable and what is not."

Looking to open up to different information perspectives, Pariser advises against adding people with an opposing view on Twitter or Facebook, "because it is generally an unpleasant experience that tends to polarize people more." Alternatively, he proposes the use of source persons, that is to say, those reliable sources, with a conception open to other points of view, which in a reasonable language will help us to understand cross-cutting cultures and to cross ideologies. In addition, he calls for a strengthened conscience and, instead of preparing for a struggle, trying to understand why someone might think in a particular way, "I think curiosity is the best weapon we have against polarization."

Finally, in an age of disinformation, polarization and "tribal antagonism," Pariser believes there is still room to evolve and build coexistence. "The history of civilization is the history of humanity seeking and building technology to solve problems, make projects, even games. Despite the big differences in ways of thinking, collaboration, participation, joint construction is possible even online, in the new media, it is not a small task, but neither do I think it is impossible. "

As with all of the blogs posted on our website, the content above does not imply the endorsement of The CI or its Partners and is from the perspective of the writer alone. We do not check facts and strive to retain the writer's voice, as is detailed in our Editorial Policy.