From mass to automated media: revisiting the filter bubble

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In the face of social media’s problems with fake news and political polarisation, theready response has been to propose economic, technical, and educational fixes.Reacting to US concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, for example,Facebook executive Rob Goldman tweeted: ‘There are easy ways to fight this. […]Finland, Sweden and Holland have all taught digital literacy and critical thinkingabout misinformation to great effect.’1 A recent report by the Data & SocietyResearch Institute considered a range of possible solutions, including fortified factcheckingand verification services and incentives for de-emphasising fake content andclosing down the accounts of those who circulate it.2 The hope embedded in suchresponses is that the overarching commercial model we have developed for circulatingnews and information online can be salvaged for the purposes of informed communicationand democratic deliberation. Some combination of self-regulation by platformgiants, public pressure to reconfigure economic incentives, anti-trust measures,and increased media literacy on the part of users has been advanced as a strategy forcurbing the flood of politically polarised misinformation online.This chapter argues that the concerns raised by commercial social media aresignificant and structural, which means the commercial model we have developedis not salvageable solely through education and self-regulation. Rather we need tocritically examine the broader connections between media infrastructures andsocial policies that erode the resources for mutual recognition and collectivedeliberation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBig Data, Political Campaigning and The Law
Subtitle of host publicationDemocracy and Privacy in the Age of Micro-Targeting
EditorsNormann Witzleb, Moira Paterson, Janice Richardson
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429288654
ISBN (Print)9780367230548
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • filter bubbles
  • echo chamber
  • democracy
  • political polarization
  • civic culture

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