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Opinion | Bursting your bubble: Students need to read outside of their microtargeted news feeds

By Steven Beynon
On February 28, 2014

The Internet was supposed to unite us, but it has become too good at personalized service.

You probably don't know what I saw on Youtube or Yahoo this morning because my pages are different than yours.

I spend a lot of time watching videos on politics, video game criticism, bodybuilding and stand-up comedy. Naturally, all my Youtube suggestions are videos in those fields from the same outlets.

This is called microtargeting and is harmless most of the time, but it has a huge potential for hurting intellectual honesty.

Consider that back in the old days most people were reading the newspaper on the bus. Now, they are playing Angry Birds.

The people actually reading news are likely getting it from Facebook through pages microtargeted to them or already subscribed to.

More than 30 percent of Americans get their news from Facebook.

Facebook just launched its new Paper app. Paper tracks the news you're interested in and surfaces more of that stuff and rarely presenting you with contradictory information.

I mostly agree with Mark Zuckerburg that this is a powerful and useful app. Yet only seeing material that confirms the opinions you already have isn't news; it's Fox News.

We're the only industrialized country in the world that has serious conversations about Creationism.

It's likely because many American's only source for science is Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Ted Cruz.

By the time they hear Bill Nye present inconvenient facts, their minds are already cemented into beliefs that have been heavily reinforced by only a few outlets.

Newspapers are old-fashioned but they are trying to tell you what's actually important, not just what's important to you. There are events going on outside of your microtargeted bubble of sports, videogames, and organizations devoted to a single party.

It's much more likely for different viewpoints or actual science that may contradict prejudice or beliefs to break through your bubble once you explore arenas that aren't trying to cater to you.

If you only subscribe to The Blaze, you likely hold on to the idea Obama is a foreign Muslim. An astounding one in five Americans believes this.

On the contrary the man eats hotdogs, smokes and drinks beer. If he's a Muslim, he's really bad at it.

Some folks believe he's an oppressive socialist tyrant that's going to personally come to your house and take your weapons.

In reality, he has used less executive orders than any president in the past 100 years. He would be a Republican if he ran two decades ago. Most of the Left don't see him as Liberal enough.

Be sure not to accidentally create a bubble for yourself. Listen to the other side of the argument. If you're truly devote on particular topics, look at your resources for information.

They likely fall under the same umbrella. If you only listen to Bill O' Reilly or Arianna Huffington, you're only isolating yourself.


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