Filter bubbles’ enable media biases: media expert

MANILA – As media consumers, people need to be aware of “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers,” a leading media and communication expert said.

Everyone, especially millennial(s), should be worried about it as this affects one’s tolerance capacity for divergent views on various issues and concerns in society,” president of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), Manila, Ramon R. Tuazon, said.

Tuazon spoke about “World trends in freedom of expression and media development” and “Defending journalism: global best practices” to a group of graduate students of the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines, Diliman last Thursday, as part of the subject on Comparative Communication Systems.

A filter bubble, a term coined by Internet activist Eli Pariser, is a state of intellectual isolation that allegedly results from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location and past click-behavior, he explained.

It is a phenomenon in which a person is exposed to ideas, people, facts, or news that adhere to or are consistent with a particular political or social ideology, said Tuazon, who is also secretary general of the Manila-based Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), an international organization composed of media practitioners and members of the academe.

Internet search engines and social media platforms closely scrutinize and study one’s algorithms. This causes the tragedy of digital commons. The reason is that one’s algorithm affects news feeds, likes and sharing patterns, said Tuazon, who is also chairman of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Technical Committee for Communication (TCC) and member of CHED’s Technical Working Group for Graduate Education.

The “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” condition a media consumer to be more prone to have biases toward other people’s views.

“You are not exposed to the views contrary to yours. You will not have tolerance towards other divergent opinions and this can be a cause of worry or concern,” he said.

Tuazon also said that Filipinos need to be careful about the way they consume media content. There is a greater need to have media literacy so citizens would be better informed and not to be mere consumers of entertainment.

He also questioned the content the consumers produce on social media outlets. It is true the consumers produce content, he said.

"What kind of media content are we producing?" Tuazon questioned.

In a democracy, he said, it is important that citizens are exposed to various types of perspectives of reality and make one’s own assessment and opinion thereof.

“We are a country of ‘over-entertained and uninformed’people,” said Tuazon who has served as consultant to more than 30 public information and communication programs and projects supported by multilateral and bilateral agencies, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union, and UN agencies.

(About the Author : Santosh Digal is a graduate student at the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.) his article can be read here: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1064084