What Is The Filter Bubble And Why Are We All So Guilty Of It?

5 April 2017, 16:14 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:25

We the Unicorns

By Hollie-Anne Brooks

It's surprising how much social media controls what we think...

Your Facebook feed, Twitter feed, your YouTube subscription box... it's all full of stuff you like. Apart from the odd annoying baby photo and "cryptic" rant, our feeds tend to represent who we are, what we like and what we're all about. We subscribe to people on YouTube that we enjoy and we are naturally drawn to, and engage with, people on social media who share similar viewpoints and tastes to us - which is how it should be, right? Not quite. We're here to explain what the filter bubble is, how it's making a big impact on your political views and shaping your taste.

What Is A Filter Bubble?

We all know by now that the Internet and social media thrive on algorithms - Facebook and YouTube are notorious for it and will show us content for the same people we've interacted with before meaning we constantly see the same faces and same opinions. To put it simply: a filter bubble is the algorithm social media creates for you which continues to show you stuff you like due to you interacting with similar things previously.

Need an example? Imagine your good friends on Facebook all like Liza Koshy; they talk about her a lot, they share pictures of her and articles about her. Because you like Liza Koshy too. You interact with what your friends are saying about her; Facebook recognises this and will then serve you adverts about Liza Koshy, make sure you're seeing more of your friends' updates about Liza Koshy at the top of your news feed and will create positive sponsored Facebook posts about Liza Koshy for you to see. As a result, you're seeing a lot of Liza Koshy content across your newsfeed and it's only reinforcing your positive opinion of her.

Liza Koshy dancing

Make sense?

Why Is A Filter Bubble Bad?

Ultimately, filter bubbles allow for linear thinking, meaning you're only getting one real view of the world - which is the one you enjoy. By not experiencing other opinions and viewpoints, you become almost conditioned to one way of thinking and absolutely believe your own viewpoint is right and there's no scope to be open.

The filter bubble was most discussed around the time of the US election when there were many examples of Facebook serving fans positive Donald Trump articles if they liked certain news organisations and negative Donald Trump articles if they liked another type of outlet. As a result, we can be served fake news- something all social media sites are now trying hard to tackle- and believe it as fact.

Donald Trump fake news

What it means is that our viewpoints are heavily influenced according to what social media is feeding to us and we're less likely to make decisions on our own accord and actually make decisions on what social media is telling us we should believe.


The Filter Bubble On YouTube

On YouTube you're drawn to people similar to you, more often than not. If you take a look at your subscription list then you'll notice they tend to be into the same things as you are, have the same beliefs about things like politics and religion and more often than not be the same race as you are. As people, we're naturally more attracted to people who look like us.

However, we all know YouTube has a diversity problem - and one thing we can help to do to change that is taking a look at just who we're subscribed to and seeing how we can shake things up a little. If you're a white woman in her 20s and into beauty and style, most of the people you're subscribed to will (probably) also be white women around the same age who do beauty. But there's so much we can learn from people of all races and nationalities (we all know this) and actively seeking out some of those channels will help create a more diverse, supportive community for all as well as giving you a different look at the world.

If you're subscribed to the likes of Tanya Burr and Zoe Sugg, why not go and also check out Chanel Ambrose, Jackie Aina and AnchalMUA? Fan of Dan and Phil? Maybe Nathan Zed has something you'll also love.

Jackie Aina

Ultimately, it's about opening our eyes and ears a little more and being concious that social media plays a huge part in the way we think and feel about the world. By not checking out other viewpoints and opinions, we'll never grow and stay static in our tastes.

So, how are you going to burst your filter bubble?

Be sure to check out our vlogging 101 series filled with top tips on how to create a YouTube channel of your own.