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Review of filter bubbles: overstated, oversold, and overused

Conference contribution
Authors Peter Dahlgren
Published in 69th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA). Washington D.C., USA, 24-28 May
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Subject categories Media Studies, Communication Studies, Applied Psychology

Abstract

The media environment have changed fundamentally since the advent of internet. Several concerns has been raised that users of social networking sites are primarily selecting information they agree with, and therefore become enclosed in information cocoons which are further reinforced by algorithms. The purpose of this narrative review is therefore to (1) review research on selective exposure in the internet environment—e.g., filter bubbles—and, (2) reframe selective exposure theory to make room for different situational circumstances. The main finding is that online fragmentation has been overstated since users do not avoid information when using internet in general or social networking sites in particular. People do indeed seek information they agree with, but are not equally motivated to avoid information they disagree with, which therefore leaves a lot of room for incidental exposure to disagreeing information. However, the amount of diverse information is seldom the most important factor (for example when explaining political polarization), but rather how individuals interpret information.

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