Filter Bubbles Cheryl Shouldice, Danielle Castle, Katie McMillan and Merijam Volpe

Problem

Websites utilize users information in order to formulate algorithms which aim to provide the user with information that is relevant to their interests. They do so by analyzing choices which individuals make online including comments, likes and shares. From this data the algorithm will generate posts that are related to these topics. This is a beneficial concept for the purposes of business and filtering out “big data”. However, some worry that this impedes on personal privacy. A more in depth concern is that these filters and restrictions create bias when individuals begin to search for information or interests online. People may lose their ability to think critically about topics because they may only be able to see one side of a multidimensional topic.

Possible Approaches

Create a video to teach users how to remove these filter and tracking cookies from their web pages. Provide the skills necessary for individuals to have a bit more control over their actions and behaviors on the web and to feel more secure.

Create a search engine that does not have built in filters but allows the individual to search and navigate their interests without the manipulation of information based on previous searches or visited sites. Allow users the freedom to post or comment on all the information provided on this search engine.

Run an experiment to see how drastically the filters edit our ability to search the web. Track how often it manipulative information based on our online behaviors and record the result. Measure how different our page looks based on the manipulated ad’s a topics the web page provides us with.

Research

Proposal

The approach which we have chosen to address this problem is a combination of two of our solutions. We have decided to do an experiment where each group member will purposefully like, comment and share ideas that lead an algorithm to direct future posts in a specific direction for one week. Each member will utilize a different popular platform to do this (snap-chat, Instagram, Facebook & Google-news). At the end of the week, each member will reflect on their observations of the effect this had on the posts that appeared in each platforms timeline and the possible implications of the filtering. Following this, the group members will provide a detailed description about how people can alter their settings for the purpose of turning off the filters and getting a broader variety of news stories on each platform respectively. Our plan is to create informative videos about the findings and implications for users who may not understand the risks or know how to prevent it.

Assignment 2

For our second assignment, we decided to explore “big data” and “filter bubbles” further. Knowing and understanding how social media platforms use our patterns and behaviors online to tailor information and media to suit our interests we decided to conduct an experiment to support our final media piece. Using several different media sites, we manipulated our behaviors to see what content would appear. The results were interesting and what we had expected. We have each created personal blogs to address our findings and collectively we produced how-to educational videos to teach the public simple ways to increase their privacy and security within these respective sites. We hope this product will be beneficial for anyone interested in improving their online presence.

Why privacy is important.

Some people believe that they have nothing to hide so they say they don’t care about their information being shared with companies or governments online. Although this may seem true, that your online behaviors are harmless and that you aren’t doing anything wrong so why should it matter.

We believe it truly does matter for so many reasons. Your online footprint will be with you forever, even after we are gone our memories will forever live through media we have shared. This can affect our reputations now and in the future. The more information you share the more power you are giving away.

Your data can be used to influence your decisions and have control over our view of the world. When we allow companies to invade our privacy we ultimately lose our freedoms. Our freedom for true unaltered information, our freedom of speech, social and political choices. When data is built, and designed by what these big companies think we want to see and hear we lose our choice to think critically about a wider variety of information.

Social media is a format used for the purposes of connecting people, sharing personal views, and ideas and having them seen on a large scale network. Despite, the large amount of information and views available, a few dominant companies seem to have greater influence than anyone else. This is due to information filtering, and sharing of personal information to large scale companies who can then alter content to relate to individuals interests and send it directly to those people (Romero, Gabura, Asur, & Huberman, 2011).

This can create false information sharing, bias and a lack of objectivity. This creates a cultural issue, because the information being shared is only the information which the user is interested in and agrees with. Without opposing views, individuals may feel justified in their opinions without taking into consideration the alternatives, undergoing critical analysis and formulating an educated perspective.

Technology and social media are avenues that will not ever be obsolete but only increase and expand over time. This is why we need to think carefully about our privacy and online security now so that we can maintain our freedoms and safely enjoy our connection to the rest of the world.

References

Angwin, J. (2012, November 4). How to Turn off Google’s Personalized Search Results. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/11/04/how-to-turn-off-googles-personalized-search-results/

BullGuard. (2017). Privacy violations – the dark side of social media... Bullguard.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://www.bullguard.com/bullguard-security-center/internet-security/social-media-dangers/privacy-violations-in-social-media

Choose your privacy settings. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/114836?visit_id=16362734623495781074149178652&p=settings_privacy&rd=1

Eli Pariser. (2011, May 2) Beware online "filter bubbles" YouTube. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s

Greenwald, G. (2017). Why privacy matters. Ted.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from https://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters

Google Privacy | Why data protection matters. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from https://privacy.google.com/take-control.html

Facebook. (2017). Settings. Retrieved from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/settings

Ingram, Mathew. (2016, May 18) Snapchat Could be the Next Social App That Is Run by an Algorithm. Fortune.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://fortune.com/2016/05/18/snapchat-algorithm/

Romero, D., Galuba, W., Asur, S., & Huberman, B. (2011). Influence and Passivity in Social Media. Machine Learning And Knowledge Discovery In Databases, 18-33. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-23808-6_2

Kircher, Madison, M. (2016, November 9). Election Self-Care Tip: Turn Off Out-of-Order Sorting on Social Media. Select All. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/11/how-to-turn-off-algorithm-on-instagram-facebook-and-twitter.html

Kovacs, G. (2012, May 03). Retrieved March 09, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_f5wNw-2c0

Piirsalu, Kadri-Liis. (2012, Devember 12). Privacy issues of Social Networks - Social Networks Privacy. Social-networks-privacy.wikidot.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://social-networks-privacy.wikidot.com/

Threatpost. (Mar 18, 2013). How To: Chrome Browser Privacy Settings. Retrieved from ‪ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY9hbsfEbaw

Trilling, D., Möller, J., & Zuiderveen, F. J. (2016, March 31). Should we worry about filter bubbles? Retrieved March 09, 2017, from https://policyreview.info/articles/analysis/should-we-worry-about-filter-bubblesbubbles

Credits:

Created with images by sasint - "grandmother kids laptop" • PublicDomainPictures - "nobody mouse empty" • LoboStudioHamburg - "twitter facebook together" • FirmBee - "facebook social media media" • Wokandapix - "search internet online" • ChristophMeinersmann - "privacy policy it computer" • rpongsaj - "Privacy" • ErikaWittlieb - "barbie camera paparazzi" • succo - "privacy policy data theft password" • CaptMikey9 - "Day 300: Hello NSA!" • hyku - "Please!"

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