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Filter bubbles and “fake news” are not the same thing, but they both have an enormous impact on the news and information you consume, and therefore the opinions you are likely to form. If you want to remain open-minded and take a balanced view you need to be able spot fake news and burst your information filter bubble.
‘Fake news’ has been much in the headlines recently – mostly thanks to its hijack as a term by Donald Trump. While its purported influence in major historic events, such as the 2016 presidential election in America and Brexit referendum in the UK, is unnerving the attention it has generated has been useful. Because for the first time, many of us are beginning to appreciate how we digest the news and how it’s completely possible to exist in an information bubble of your own making.
The personalisation of news has changed the way that we digest world events. 50 years or so ago we might have all watched the same news channels and read the same newspapers. Although there have always been accusations of bias against journalists and publishers, until now, we’ve never had a situation where individuals can totally filter out the news we don’t agree with. But today – mostly thanks to social media and Google algorithms – we do. The ‘Filter Bubble’ is a term for choices made for us by algorithms, for example in Google Personalised Search results and Facebook’s personalised news-stream. The bubble basically ensures that we see what we want to see based on past clicks or preferences. The result is that we effectively become isolated in our own cultural or ideological bubbles.
Essentially, you only see and hear what you want to see and hear. As a result, you might start to believe that your view is the dominant view – which means that election results that don’t go your way, for example, can come as a big shock. You may also believe you’re right in everything you believe because the flow of news coming your way supports everything you think, with no challenge. This opens the door to “fake news,” which is basically a set of false facts presented as news to support a certain view. However, because what you’re seeing and reading is so tailored to your views – and not objective – fake news that is in line with your own beliefs (but still not true) is harder to spot.
None of us wants to be taken in by the fake news phenomenon but how can you spot a piece of news that just isn’t real?
Ultimately, the only way to get out of your bubble and away from fake news is to get out into the world and absorb as much of it as you can. From debating with other people, to reading all the papers, you’ll have a much more balanced perspective on life if you don’t just stick to your own views, feeds and websites.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read about Amanda Gillam
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