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In Tania Bucher’s article “Want to be on the top? Algorithmic power and the threat of invisibility on Facebook,” she describes how a user must continuously interact with his or her friends on Facebook in order to be seen by the EdgeRank algorithm. Only through continued participation can we be ensured of our visibility. Though Facebook has the option for individual Promoted Posts where users can pay to ensure their posts are featured in friends’ News Feeds, the predominant dynamic is one of sharing as much and as often as one can in order to assert Facebook existence. Facebook puts the power of visibility in our hands.

I believe Bucher’s analysis is missing further discussion on the effects our Facebook actions have on our individual news feed. Not only do we post, comment, and like to ensure that we show up on our friends’ newsfeeds, but Facebook intuits based upon our behavior what we would like to see on our news feeds. If Facebook is making assumptions about what we like and care about, it is easy to get caught in a media landscape of confirmation bias. In his blog post, Daniel discusses how Google customizes our search results based on data that it knows about us and perhaps changes our attitude in the process. We have discussed how this type of filtering happens all over the Internet, but we have reason to be concerned. Without making a conscious effort to look outside of the information that Google, Facebook, and other sites provide to us, we can become caught in a circular logic of seeing what we already believe to be true.

I first became interested in these issues when I watched a TED Talk from Eli Pariser called “Beware Online Filter Bubbles.” (He makes a compelling case. I highly suggest watching it.) Subsequently, I read his book “The Filter Bubble,” which discusses similar issues. Pariser calls for more socially responsible algorithims that will provide information that contradicts what Google/Facebook/online services know we like and agree with. Though perhaps our best assurance of open-mindedness and free knowledge is to actively seek out alternate opinions on our own, without the help of a computer.