The mission for AllSides is to free people from filter bubbles so they can better understand each other and the world.
A filter bubble occurs when someone is only exposed to news that confirms his or her beliefs, or when an individual solely interacts with like-minded peers. The result? A society where people only see one side, leading to a highly polarized political environment.
How filter bubbles are created:
With the sheer amount of content available today -- online, in print and on TV -- we have to filter most of it out.
After a while, we start to block information that doesn't align with our current beliefs and predispositions. A great deal of this is unintentional. Social media platforms use advanced algorithms to provide users with information that specifically aligns with their political preferences. What's more, the 24 hour news cycle serves more to inflame than to provide balanced news. Both right-wing and left-wing outlets build loyal customer bases with highly biased reporting, because people keep coming back to hear what they want to hear.
In the end, the only information we receive actively confirms our belief systems. Our relationships become more and more homogeneous to the extent that descension is punished, with social groups often retaining a uniform partisan identity.
The filter bubble effect:
As filter bubbles develop, we become confidently ignorant. A recent study from the University of Colorado notes that “people's attitudes become more extreme after they speak with like-minded others.” When we only talk with people who agree, we are much less likely to even entertain an opposing viewpoint.
This creates the hyper-polarization we see exploding in developed nations around the world. Cooperation across political divides is becoming near impossible. No longer do we see the other side as merely wrong, but we also see them as evil. It that case, we can't work together even when we agree.
This division causes dysfunction in our news, politics, communities, and even in our personal lives.
What we can do about filter bubbles:
We need to add diversity to each person’s bubble - not just diversity in gender or race, but in background, geography and ideas.
With diversity in thought and relationship, we can appreciate and talk about differences, engage in productive problem solving and collaborate.
And the politicians will once again reflect their voters.
What is AllSides doing to pop filter bubbles?
- We present a breadth of perspectives with our daily news coverage to give readers multiple takes on the same issue -- not just one slant.
- We work with schools to build digital and media literacy while providing opportunities for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to train students how to respect, tolerate and appreciate each other across differences.
- Our new program, Mismatch, connects high school and college students with different backgrounds to have respectful discussions on the issues facing our country.
- We partner with Living Room Conversations to promote civil discourse with those we may disagree with.