Blog Post #2

What you see on your Facebook newsfeed and Google search result is not an accurate representation of reality. Thanks to Facebook and google’s complex algorithms, they filter and show us only what we want. This can have a large effect on our lives and even our political views in today’s world. According to an article written for HuffingtonPost by Megan Anderle in 2015, people take what they see on the internet to be true, so many may not even realize this filter bubble they are being put into. These websites also don’t make it very easy to get around the algorithms choosing. As we learned in class on February 18th, “Filter bubbles are created by algorithms that respond to our characteristics to create a reality just for us.” These filter bubbles are created by the Facebook algorithm. According to the study “Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook News Feed,” 62% of people had no idea their newsfeed was created just for them. This lack of knowledge is a scary fact in and of itself. Anderle goes on in her article to discuss the algorithms effect on political views. Facebook’s newsfeed come from comment you make, timeline’s you visit, and likes you make. If you interact with only left wing politics and comment only on those posts, you are going to see posts about those views more then the contradicting. It is important that it more advertised that Facebook alters what we see via their algorithm.

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm
One example of an interpretation of Facebook’s algorithm. 

We need to know these filter bubbles exist because as humans we like to avoid opinions that don’t go with ours. We don’t like to engage with people who will pick apart why we are Republican and why that is bad. According to a Fortune magazine article written by Matthew Ingram, Facebook did a study in 2015 and placed the blame of the filter bubble on the individual, stating they choose what they want to see. However he points out that the algorithm and people’s choices are intertwined, and that these algorithms magnify people’s ability to avoid. Taking this back to what Anderle’s article, I think it can be said that even if people themselves choose to engage with their left-winged friends, Facebook’s algorithm further perpetuates that later and filters their newsfeed to show more of those left-winged posts. Which once again needs to be made more public so people are aware.

After discussing Facebook’s impact Anderle goes on to talk about Google’s impact on our political views. She reports “Google’s search algorithm can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more — up to 80 percent in some demographic groups — with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated, according to experiments by researchers Robert Epstein and Ronald E. Robertson. This 20% could cause major repercussions and dictate an election. This could be really impactful because of the point that these filter bubbles are constructed and many people don’t have any idea they are individualized to them. According to google.com their “algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for.” These clues range from your region to computer type to recent clicks. All of these can alter someone’s search engine when they start googling things about an upcoming election. Anderle writes that while Google may not be as manipulative as Facebook, it is still something to be aware of. I believe filter bubbles will exist as long as the internet does, and that is okay. However internet users need to be aware that the reality they are seeing is created just for them and that there is more going on than they see.

References:

Algorithms – Inside Search – Google. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2016, from https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/algorithms.html

Anderle, M. (2015, October 15). How Facebook and Google’s Algorithms Are Affecting Our Political Viewpoints. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-anderle/how-facebook-and-googles-_b_8282612.html

Ingram, M. (2015, May 07). Facebook ‘filter bubble’ study raises more questions than it answers. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://fortune.com/2015/05/07/facebook-filter-bubble-doubts/

Miller, B. (2016, February 18). The Shallows (PowerPoint Slides). Retrieved from https://ay15.moodle.umn.edu/course/view.php?id=12439.

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Blog Post #2

Blog Post #1

Instagram is a unique social media site in it’s characteristic of being solely visual based. In order to post something on their site one must upload a picture or video with their thoughts or caption. Their message comes through their medium in the sense that the visuals give the consumer the message. In our lecture on February 4th on “The Medium Is the Message” we learned that hot media are generally visual in nature, Instagram would fall in to this medium. Thus that the visuality of the medium (Instagram) creates the message that the consumer experiences. Instagram creates a social space where people can share visual glimpses into their lives through an app. It is easy to follow a random person, celebrity, or friend. A better understanding of the purely visual, easily searchable, and connective characteristics of Instagram help us better understand that the content produced can range from the glitz and glam to inspiration. This readily available social media effects our culture both positively and negatively. According to Marc Rinosa, writer for HuffingtonPost, Instagram “provides an open forum for opinion through images in a world saturated with text.” These can lead to images circulating Instagram and connecting our community and culture. For example when terror broke out in Paris people took to Instagram to show their support and solidarity, for Paris in their time of need. Time Magazine reported that in the 24 hours following the attack over 70 million people shared their prayers and concerns for Paris through various pictures, such as the ones posted below.

This uniquely visual platform reinforces the power an image has. However that great power can have negative consequences. These consequences include, but are not limited to posts like “thinspiration” on Instagram that can cause great damage to our culture. Thinspiration is a word used to promote anorexia and eating disorders. In an article written for abcnews.com, they interviewed an anorexic girl to try and better understand the trend. She talks about how toxic the content is and that girls see it as their ticket to happiness. She also states that “Thinspo is dominated by photos, many of them of them depicting skeletal young women and girls with prominent ribs, twig-like limbs and sallow visages.” A medium like Instagram is the perfect platform to keep this trend going strong. However Instagram attempted to combat this negativity by banning the use of #thinspo. According to Lauren Duca, and entertainment reporter for HuffingtonPost, Instagram banned the hashtag thinspiration, in August of 2012, in hopes of preventing the harm those pro-anorexia posts can do to our culture. However given the medium is visual they can’t totally ban “thinspiration” from their site. With a quick glance through various popular Instagram’s (such as Kendall Jenner and other models) it is obvious what our culture deems to be ideal, and that is skinny, thin people. Instagram is still full of “thins” just without the use of the hashtag. Like Rinosa pointed out, our world is saturated with text and Instagram is a visual platform, not textual, so banning a word or phrase is not going to keep it off this medium. This open forum can positively bond as a culture, but it can also effect our culture in negative, hurtful ways. This medium is a unique forum that poses new ways to express what our culture deems important.

Duca, L. (2013, August 28). Can Thinspiration Really Be #Banned From Instagram? Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lauren-duca/thinspiration-banned-from-instagram_b_3829155.html
Laurent, O. (2015, November 16). 70 Million People Shared Their Prayers for Paris on Instagram. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://time.com/4114288/paris-instagram/
Miller, B. (2016, February 4). The Medium Is The Message (PowerPoint Slides). Retrieved from https://ay15.moodle.umn.edu/course/view.php?id=12439.
Neporent, L. (2013, March 1). Anorexics Weigh In on ‘Thinspo’ Internet Sites. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/thinspo-internet-content-promotes-anorexia-experts/story?id=18622088
Rinosa, M. (2013, January 26). 4 Ways Instagram Has Redefined Teen Culture. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-rinosa/4-ways-instagram-has-rede_b_2500057.html

 

Blog Post #1