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the friendly rumor mill


/ April 27th, 2011 /

“The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation.”

Don DeLillo’s insight could now be extended to friends, according to new study.

Kelly Garrett, an Ohio State prof, surveyed Americans about 10 rumors that swirled around the internet during the 2008 elections. Unsurprisingly, Garrett found, Americans came across a lot of rumors online – but they also came across rebuttals, which in the end cancelled out any propensity to fall for the rumors.

But while the 600 surveyed were immune to fabrications on the web, they were not unsusceptible to rumors they received from friends via email. Friends, of course, are trustworthy sources in our eyes. And since our friends tend to hold similar views, we’re unlikely to get emailed equally “trustworthy” rebuttals to balance out the falsehoods.

Garrett’s results suggest that Eli’s concern that personalization algorithms create yet another cradle (or filter bubble) of misinformation is not wholly imagined. While more rumors filter through our friends, and rebuttals get bounced out, we’re increasingly likely to be a misinformed nation.


Conspiracy theory nation


/ April 27th, 2011 /

This week Slate’s David Weigel reviews Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground, Jonathan Kay’s tour of Truthers, Birthers and Vacciners, among other nutty theorists.

The explanation for the apparent explosion of conspiracy groups? Our self-imposed information bubbles:

The media, as Kay points out, is more fragmented than ever. Information is easier to come across, and bogus information has a way of jumping to the top of Google’s search pages. That fragmentation is happening at a time of intense partisan anger and economic angst.


Personalization News Roundup: 4/24


/ April 25th, 2011 /

I’ve been squirrelling away links for the launch of this blog, and now that we’re launching I’ve realized there are way too many to write up. So, here’s a quick roundup of Filter Bubble-related news:

More soon…


Welcome


/ April 21st, 2011 /

Welcome to the Filter Bubble blog. For the next several months, I’ll be posting articles, observations, and news about the personalization of the Internet and my book, The Filter Bubble.

Joining me in this effort are Caitlin Petre, Julia Kamin, and Sam Novey, all of whom worked tirelessly as research assistants on the book and now know nearly as much about all this as I do. Their opinions are their own; I’ve encouraged them to argue with me here if they disagree.

Hope you enjoy! You can follow @elipariser on Twitter to get updates about the latest blog posts.


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