Filter Bubble

2020. 07. 27. internet óravázlat 9–10. évfolyam

Zoom in on Media Matters Part 3 — Filter Bubbles
Topic: the phenomenon of filter bubbles and their repercussions for our online lives

Level: B2/C1

Main idea: Instead of social media broadening our perspective of the world, it actually tends to feed into our existing ideas, concepts and stereotypes, so it’s all too easy for us to end up in a filter bubble or echo chamber to use another common term to describe the phenomenon. How do we get into a filter bubble? What are the consequences of being in one and what can we do to get out of it?

Lead-in activity
Exercise 1 — Social media vocabulary

Time: 5 min
Instructions for teachers: Although the lesson focuses on filter bubbles, it is worth collecting terms related to social media use in general. Give your students circa 2 minutes and have them collect as many words as they can related to social media. You can reward the person who comes up with the most terms. Your students can come up with tons of different terms, but here is a short list of potential vocabulary.
social media platforms, tweet and retweet (noun and verb), trending, troll, avatar, an influencer, a youtuber, clickbait, go viral, blogging, blogger, vlogging, vlogger, cyberbullying, feed, posting, memes, crowdfunding, challenge, campaign, scam etc.

Exercise 2 — Video and group discussion 


Time: 5-7 min + c. 15 min for the group discussion
Instructions for teachers: Click on the link and watch the video on filter bubbles twice. You can help your students by giving them the questions for the group discussion before watching the video.

Questions for group discussion


Possible answers:

  1. “Filter bubble is a theory that the algorithms from companies like Facebook and Google bases the information given to you on data acquired from things like your search history, your past click behaviour and your location, therefore limiting the topics that reach you to a bubble of only your formulated interests and personalized search subjects. Algorithms keep track of what you like to click on and will give you content based on what they think you will like and they will show you content you’ll likely consume. The term was coined by Eli Pariser, an Internet activist, who wrote a book on the subject explaining that these algorithms have isolated us from information and perspectives that we haven’t already expressed an interest in—meaning you may miss out on important information. Also, most probably you will not be given information outside your own political views, religious views or even other data. For instance, a social media site will hide posts from friends with different viewpoints or a news site may display articles that it thinks you’ll agree with. Another term to describe this phenomenon is echo chamber. Echo chamber is when information, ideas or beliefs are repeatedly pushed in an enclosed system, like your newsfeed, or your social circle, while other views are prohibited.”* The problem with these filter bubbles is that we may not even realize we are in one because these algorithms don’t ask for our permission, tell us when they are active or say what they are keeping from us. 
  2. If we are all confident that we are getting the full story on a current event—when in reality we are only getting a part of it—no one can make an educated judgement and it becomes difficult to have a meaningful discussion of the facts. This is why filter bubbles contribute to a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to consider opposing viewpoints and unfavourable information.
  3. Companies like FB and Google are working on the problem but they haven’t come up with a definitive solution up till now. Until then we can

*Source: Filter Bubbles (Internet Vocabulary)
**Source: Filter Bubble (Internet Vocabulary)

Exercises 3 — How thick is your social bubble?

Instructions for teachers: This exercise will give your students another great opportunity to discuss the topic in greater depth. If you think one of the questions is too difficult for them to answer or you find it less relevant, feel free to skip it. However, these questions can spark a rather interesting debate, which can take the students beyond the phenomenon of filter bubbles. You can also give them a homework assignment as a follow-up to the exercise, e.g. they can analyse the results of the survey carried out by Barna Group.

Exercise 4 — Vocabulary

Filter bubble vocabulary

A simple vocabulary exercise for the students to practise phrases they have heard in the video.
If you run out of time, they can do it for homework.
Time: 10 min