# 11: Confirmation Bias and Filter Bubbles

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## What is Being Filtered Out of Your Search?

The idea of filter bubbles was introduced nearly ten years ago by Eli Pariser. The idea is that information providers are tracking your online activity in order to target what they have determined are your information needs.

Even almost ten years later, many people still haven't heard of filter bubbles. If you haven't, you might find the information a bit unnerving. This is Pariser's TED Talk from 2011.

## Where Are We Now?

A few years ago, Eli Pariser was interviewed by Wired magazine to discuss how Pariser's warning of filter bubbles had evolved over time.

Reading one: From Wired website: Eli Pariser Predicted the Future. Now He Can’t Escape It by Jesse Hempel

## How We Confirm Our Own Beliefs

Filter bubbles are outside forces that affect the information we take in. But, there's also a lot of stuff going on in our own brains that influences the way we take in and interpret information. This is called confirmation bias.

The next reading from Scientific American explores how people can be exposed to scientific evidence, but still have doubts. It's a good introduction to confirmation bias in this context.

Wikipedia also has an extensive entry on confirmation bias that is well researched and has a lot of suggested readings if you want to explore this concept further. I included a link to it at the bottom of the page in further reading.

[NOTE TO USERS OF THIS TEXTBOOK: The following reading is not freely available online. The link goes to the Los Rios Libraries MASTERfile database. You will need to see if your databases include access to this article and if not, find an alternative.]

## Bias in News

I am a former journalist. My bachelor's degree is in journalism and I worked as a television news producer for nearly ten years before switching careers. I have been stunned to see how much the journalistic landscape has shifted in the last twenty years. Journalists used to be highly respected and objectivity was paramount.

Now, many news outlets openly discuss and tout their political leanings. It has created an environment that makes understanding our confirmation biases even more difficult.

There is a lot of information out there about media bias. One website I've been particularly impressed with is called AllSides.com. I often encourage students to seek out the same story from several different news outlets to see how it has been covered. AllSides.com does that for you, showing the same story and its coverage from left, center, and right leaning news sources.

I encourage you to check out the website and click around. Read a story that interests you to see how it has been covered in the three areas. We'll be exploring this more next week.