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What is an Information Bubble?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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Historically, gathering important news and information and subsequently reporting it to the masses was a full-time occupation for a select group of professional journalists. It was not unusual for news of a military victory or an epic human tragedy to take days, weeks, or even months to reach the general public, and that is assuming members of the general public even had access to those reports. Today, there are literally hundreds of different news organizations working 24 hours a day to provide almost immediate information to their respective audiences.

This immediacy and accessibility has created a troubling new phenomenon, however. Because viewers and readers can literally pluck their news and information directly from competing media trees, some have begun to gravitate towards news sources which most closely resemble their own worldview or political leanings. By isolating themselves from the full spectrum of media outlets, they have virtually created an information bubble around themselves as a form of ideological or political self-defense.

The formation of an information bubble presupposes that the majority of news organizations do indeed espouse various biases and political leanings. Currently, one of the most commonly mentioned examples of biased news reporting is the ongoing rivalry between the cable news organizations CNN and FOX News. CNN is often characterized as a more politically liberal outlet, while FOX News is generally viewed as more politically conservative. This apparent bias towards one end of the political spectrum or the other has often led to a polarization of potential viewers.

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It would not be unusual for a politically conservative viewer to form an information bubble by only using FOX News or a similarly conservative news outlet exclusively. The same would hold true for a more liberal viewer who only considered CNN or other liberal-leaning news organizations to be accurate and trustworthy. While both organizations have the ability to present essential news items in an objective and professional manner, some of their most ardent viewers may become very exclusive in their viewing habits.

This growing information bubble phenomenon could have the unwanted effect of media isolationism. Professional journalists continue to have the responsibility of reporting the news without prejudice or bias, but not all viewers or readers may agree with this standard. Some who live in information bubbles may prefer having their news spun in a specific political or ideological direction before it even reaches their ears or eyes. The deliberate avoidance of opposing viewpoints or negative news items through the creation of an information bubble can be a potentially troubling development indeed.

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honeybees
Post 4

I usually listen to FOX News in the morning when I am getting ready for work. When I get to work, there is a TV that is running in the background all day long that is usually on CNN.

This gives me a good balance between a conservative and liberal point of view. I would not say that I am more biased towards one than the other. I know many people who are very passionate about one station or another and I feel like they are definitely in an information bubble.

Sometimes it can be hard to have a conversation with them if you have a completely different point of view than they do. I don't let it

get to me, and sometimes even find it a bit humorous.

I don't think being in one specific information bubble is really a good thing. You will always find other people who agree with your point of view, but it is also enlightening to see why others have a different opinion than you do.

Mykol
Post 3

I find myself somewhere between being labeled as a liberal or a conservative. Because of this I like to listen to news from more than one source. It is interesting how you can receive such different opinions when you do this.

By doing this, I hope to avoid being inside an information bubble that only represents one view. Sometimes I get tired of all of it and will just leave the news off for a few weeks.

With so much information constantly available, I find that it is easy to get overloaded with it. I know it is not good to be completely in the dark, but I also don't want to feel like I am only listening

to my news from just one specific point of view.

This makes it easier to see and understand where both sides are coming from. It is good to get outside your normal information bubble from time to time and get a different perspective on things.

golf07
Post 2

@SarahSon - I have family members who watch nothing but CNN for their national news. They will also watch the local news, but CNN is where they prefer to get their global news.

I have been to family gatherings where the conversation can become quite heated when they start talking about the different news stations. This is when I will often leave the room and find something else to do!

It really is easy to find yourself in an information bubble if you constantly get your news from the same source. This is also easy to do because there is so much information available, and it seems easier to get it from just one source than to listen to a bunch of different ones.

SarahSon
Post 1

It is amazing when you think about the instant access we have to news and information that is happening anywhere around the world at any time.

I rarely watch TV to get news and information and usually just rely on the internet to keep me aware of what is going on.

My parents, on the other hand, love to watch FOX News, and I think it is the only news channel they watch on a consistent basis. I don't usually bring up news events when we are together because I don't really enjoy talking about them all the time.

They are probably a good example of forming an information bubble whether they realize it or not. Because this is where they like to get the majority of their news, they would be receiving it from the slant of their journalists.

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