DISCUSSION: Netflix & The Filter Bubble

Do streaming services have an ethical responsibility to burst “the filter bubble?” Are there types of media (film and tv shows) that everyone should see? Why?

10 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Netflix & The Filter Bubble

  1. In my opinion television, social media, streaming services, and other technologies have two purposes. The first purpose is for entertainment, and the second is for information. Technology has the ability to reach billions of people and teach those people endless subjects; however, technology is also a massive form of entertainment that people use to decompress. When tech companies are writing new codes for their algorithms to create a “filter bubble” they need to remember the two purposes of technology so they put some documentaries and some comedies in your queue. The contrast is important for companies to create because people like to learn new things so they feel fulfilled, but they also need to have some fun and be entertained. There are not specific films or television shows that streaming services should be entitled to add to a viewer’s queue, but I do believe that they should add “information vegetables”(Eli Pariser) to push civilization forward. Streaming services have the opportunity to aid society by making education more widespread and accessible than ever through Netflix, Hulu, or HBO GO. If streaming services were to include informational films and shows in everyone’s queues they would help educate the public, rather than having them make endless references to the late 90’s hit T.V. show Friends. Streaming services create “the filter bubble” because it is makes the viewer feel like the company cares about them and has created a personalized playlist. The streaming services need to effectively hide the “information vegetables” in the “information desert” by putting just enough documentaries in the viewers queue so they won’t realize them too much, while still having a lot of comedies and cartoons to watch.

  2. Since we have been born, everything we have been shown has been filtered. Our parents filtered what we watched, what we saw, what we heard, etc. Even as kids grew older, some parents continue to filter what their kids can view. Now whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is completely subjective. I believe that it is beneficial for the kid to be exposed to things such as violence, sex, drugs, and alcohol at a young age. Although I am not one who believes that viewing these things lead to the kid eventually engaging in this behavior, I still believe that exposure to these things is detrimental to the kid.

    I do not believe that these streaming services have an ethical responsibility to burst the “filter bubble”. I feel like the streaming services should definitely suggest shows to you based on what you have watched and what you have rated previously. But there are definitely shows and movies that everybody should be exposed to. An example of this would be documentaries that are informative. Even though not everyone cares to watch these informative shows/movies, they should be promoted to help people learn about these important topics.

    The reading and the Ted Talk for this assignment were very interesting. I thought the reading made a lot of good points regarding the differences between streaming and cable television. I honestly prefer watching streamed shows because it allows me to procrastinate and put off my work. I also feel like the streaming services have more freedom in the shows that they are creating because they get to do whatever they need to do in order to get the viewer to watch another episode. The thing about streaming though is that if you can watch a whole season in one night, you basically have to wait an entire year to watch the next season.

  3. Ideally, we should all be global citizens and be able to articulate opinions on contemporary issues. But what if some people don’t care? What if some people want to concentrate on the current news of their small community or indulge in KUWTK? Who am I to say that they’re not allowed to do that? Shoving important information down people’s throats seem just as wrong, but we have to realize that it is ultimately the individual’s choice to click on that video/link or not. Recognizing that ultimately it is up to the individual to accept suggested links/videos, I don’t see a problem in streaming services having a constant string of suggestions that promote global citizenship. For example, Youtube is a streaming site that is extremely catered to the individual. When I open Youtube, I am bombarded with suggested videos based on my past views but they also give me trending videos as well as breaking news when it happens. Ultimately the choice should be up to the viewers and streaming services should not be able to filter out certain things under the mechanical and logarithmic assumption that I wouldn’t be interested. A possible solution to this would be a setting that allows me to explore things outside my comfort zone. Categories such as current events, political updates, social awareness, TEDTalks, and etc should be an option for me to explore if I wanted instead of being filtered out without my knowledge. But with this ideal solution, another problem arises. Who gets to decide what is important and what promotes global citizenship? It seems to me with the unlimited potential of the internet, an obstacle arises with every solution and it is quite frustrating.

  4. The filter bubble and its effects on people as described in the Ted Talk contain results that I do not support. I think it is vital to expose yourself to different views and ideas from your own. I do not think that this responsibility to pop this filter bubble lies in the hands of the streaming services. Targeting streaming services as a primary source for the lack of information filtration feels misguided. Companies such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO contain opinions but these opinions are not as damaging as the bubble created by Google, Facebooks, and newspapers like The Washington Post or New York Times. These examples all create bubbles focused on political opinion which is a large divide in our society today more than ever. In contrast, streaming services recommend shows you might enjoy and most don’t contain advertisements.

    Is it these services job to help promote the spread of different information? I think it is in the individual to expand themselves and their ideas. The filter bubble while prevalent on social media can be overcome. Websites such as Quora allow users to get legitimate responses to political questions from users all over the political spectrum. There are plenty of news sites that cater to all opinions. It is about the attempt to reach out and find this information.

  5. After reading and watching both the article and the TED Talk, I found that both pieces insinuated that in general, the internet and streaming sites are all becoming more personalized. Facebook auto selects the posts that appear most frequently on your feed based on previous search history and time spent on various pages. This narrowing can be based on social trends, political stance or prefered article sites. While it may seem to be a beneficial advancement, I agree with Eli Pariser in that the selectivity more likely creates opportunities for biased opinions to form. If we are not exposed to all different kinds of information, and are only exposed to information that confirms or is in line with our own beliefs, then confirmation bias occurs.
    I believe that it is not the job of streaming sites to restrict or alter the types of shows and information that users are exposed to. Therefore, I think it would be beneficial for Netflix and its competitors to attempt to burst the filter bubble. At the moment, it feels as though these companies are creating this bubble in an effort to boost profits. If people are recommended to watch shows that are in line with their comforts or preferences, they will be likely to enjoy watching such similar shows and therefore be satisfied with their choice of streaming site. As a solution, these streaming sites might consider removing the auto filter feature that taints the genres or types of readily available shows for users in an effort to broaden the accessible options to all shows. While I do not see one type of media as more important to view than the others, I think that we should not be constricted, somewhat unknowingly, to one or just a few types.

  6. While it may be beneficial to us for streaming services to burst the “filter bubble,” I don’t think that they have an ethical responsibility to do so. I agree with the points made in the article and the TEDtalk about how the filter bubble can negatively affects us, and I think that people should be exposed to views that are challenging and different instead of staying comfortably inside their own beliefs. However, the streaming services are only acting like any other company selling a product – they cater to the likes of consumers to try to get them to buy what they are offering. Streaming services simply want to keep us on their sites, making us enjoy our experience there by showing us what they think we like to see. It would also be beneficial to us for candy companies to cut back on the unhealthy sugar in their products instead of profiting off of our addiction to sweet things, but it isn’t their responsibility to do so. We as consumers of these products need to take the responsibility into our own hands. It is important for people to be aware of this issue and understand what streaming companies are doing, but it is our own responsibility to search for information that challenges our views and differs from what we are used to, finding on our own what we need to see.
    I also think that media is ultimately a form of entertainment, and everyone should see the types of film, tv shows, etc. that interest and entertain them individually. People could try to seek out forms of media that engage and challenge them, but there isn’t a certain type of media that everyone should see, as everyone has different ideas and needs.

  7. In his article “Streaming TV Isn’t Just a New Way to Watch. It’s a Genre.” James Poniewozik writes, “…how you watch, in some ways, affects the story you see.” I believe this statement relates to the TED talk on “filter bubbles” by Eli Pariser and the argument that we are surrounded by content that is pre-selected to agree with us– whether it be from Google or Netflix. Both the article and the TED talk discuss how the internet has figured out what we like, and has tailored our browsing accordingly. This is dangers because, as Pariser describes, it puts us in a filter bubble and blocks out anything that challenges our ideas. Similarly, programmed TV can “course correct” based on viewer feedback during the filming of a season, and Netflix knows what viewers like based on their watch history, so they can create series accordingly.
    I believe that Pariser’s argument is much more compelling and has much more depth than Poniewozik’s article. He claims that Netflix original series are a new genre of television completely. Fine. Who cares? He failed to ask why their existence matters. Other than the lack of commercials, why does binge culture exist? Does it reflect the undercurrents of society today? Like the TED talk that we watched in class, I believe it does. TV is more accessible than books, although frequently more expensive, and it takes less engagement on the audience’s part. If viewers are looking for an immersive experience because of today’s socio-political climate, then they’re going to want to binge to forget.

  8. It is completely natural for all of us to gravitate towards information sources and forms of entertainment that we agree with and that support our views. It’s very comfortable when we align our surrounding environment with our internal values, beliefs, and interests. People self-select and filter what we read and watch enough as it is (and often subconsciously), so when it comes to the internet all the algorithms and specialized searches only exacerbate the problem. While everyone has the right to expose themselves to whatever they like, I call this increase in feed filtering a problem because we are already incredibly divided by our different perspectives, especially within the United States. If anything, it is the duty of the internet to make sure we are exposed to different points of view, and to important events happening world wide. It’s still our choice to click as we please, however giving us the opportunity to at least see what else is out there essential, and one of the fundamental purposes of the internet.
    On a separate note, I also take issue with some of the things we ARE seeing, in addition the ones that we aren’t. Sometimes we click on sites that don’t particularly interest us, or search something random that is not very pertinent to our lives. Then the algorithms register websites or searches and keep bringing them back up, whether it’s on a feed, news board, or my favorite example: advertisements. In the months after prom or graduation there were nearly as many dresses on my feed as there were words (an exaggeration, but it gets the point across).
    In conclusion, it truly is for the best that the internet remain as universal and unbiased as possible, then we might learn how to adjust our own filters to create a more open and connected community.

  9. I understand the reason for filter bubbles and I think it was effective in its role. People like to see the things they’re interested in or agree with, but these bubbles will have more negative effects than beneficial ones. Programs on streaming services have such big platforms that creating a filter bible for watchers defeats the whole purpose. TV shows are a great way to share information and express opinions to a wider audience. By using filter bubbles, companies will be inhibiting the progressiveness of our world. If people want to filter what they want to watch then that should be their choice no the choice of the provider.

    I personally like to watch what I’m interested in, but I also like to learn. I catch my self searching through Netflix for something new and interesting that’s not only entertaining, but worthwhile. Filter bubbles will create a more close-minded community, and will hinder people when it comes to arguments. Instead of learning to accept different views, people will be so used to only seeing things that agree with them. This will lead to people not knowing how to act when they realize the world isn’t in complete agreement.

  10. I have always been a huge fan of Netflix or streaming services. But Ih ave never been particularly sharp on the idea of tv shoes due to the fact that they are long and sometimes tedious; I lose focus in due time. Rather I enjoy watching documentaries on various topics on Netflix. I actively use a site called netflix roulette and which ever show that it chooses for me that has a rating of 4-5 which make the filter bubble impossible for me. To me whether I enjoy the topic or not, I learn much from these documentaries, and that which is all it matters. Sometimes I search specifically for topics that I know little about or does not draw my interest, and tries to see if watching the documentary will increase my interest in such topics. So I’d say the filter bubble concept is true for some people, but for me it is virtually non existent; I might have preferences but it does affect my netflix habits that much

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