An Experiment in Filter Bubbles

Whether we realize it or not, most of us get almost all of our information from the internet. Our newspapers, our social interactions, sometimes even our libraries, have gone digital. It is tempting to see that as a good thing, especially during the time of COVID-19 when so much has moved online, and in many ways it is. The internet has been a democratizing force that has greatly increased the amount of information available to us. However, the internet cannot always be trusted to provide reliable information.

The term “filter bubble” was first coined by Eli Pariser in his 2011 TED Talk, which you can watch above. In summary, Pariser talks about how big tech companies like Google have created algorithms to actively curate what you see and know. As a for-profit company, it is in their platform’s best interest to make sure that you feel comfortable on their platform. They do this by removing any posts, articles, or pieces of information that they think you might disagree with and replacing them with ones that they think you will like, and click on.

Because of this, Pariser demonstrates that two people Googling the same search term get wildly different results. With your help, we want to test this.

We are asking all of our readers to Google “coronavirus”. Current studies suggest that based on your opinions your results will be completely different from those of other students. Take a screenshot of the links that come up and submit it to anonymous form below. We know that the end of the year is upon us but we will collect these results over the summer to publish the analysis at the beginning of next year. Please take a few moments this summer to contribute to this school-wide research project, and you can see the results in the fall!

  1. Google “coronavirus”
  2. Take a screenshot
  3. Submit your results in the survey
  4. Check back in the fall to see what we found!

Former Editor in Chief of The City Voice, finally graduated City High Middle School as part of the Class of 2022.