The New Information Gatekeepers

Blocked Internet InformationFor those of you that have a Facebook account; have you noticed that even though you have 200+ friends, the same 10-15 people keep showing up on your newsfeed? I have. Does it seem like your newsfeed is being filtered? Well, it is.

Perhaps you’re wondering; How in the world do they know what information I want to see, and from whom? Apparently, Facebook gathers this information based on what links you click. I didn’t really pay much attention to this until my co-worker brought it up. I mean, I knew the same people always popped up on my newsfeed (despite the fact, that I clicked on the “show everybody’s updates” option), but I didn’t know it was being done intentionally.

My co-worker shared a video about online filter bubbles with me. The video talked about how Facebook and Google are filtering what you see. The speaker in the video said that before the internet, the way we were blocked from information was through human “gatekeepers” – otherwise known as editors. When the internet was invented, the “gates” were opened, and we had access to all kinds of unfiltered information.

However, the gates once again seem to be closing, but unlike before, we now have computerized robots as gatekeepers. These robots filter our newsfeeds and search results based on variables such as computer addresses, frequented links, etc. This means that a computer is deciding what information we see, and right now, we don’t have any way of changing it. Many people don’t realize that the information they are viewing is being filtered based on what the computer thinks they’re interested in. Perhaps this new system is trying to present us with what it thinks we want to see, but at the same time it’s denying us the option of picking and choosing for ourselves.