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Are Filter Bubbles Real?

Axel Bruns

ISBN: 978-1-509-53645-0 September 2019 Polity 160 Pages



There has been much concern over the impact of partisan echo chambers and filter bubbles on contemporary public debate. Is this concern justified, or is it distracting us from more serious issues?

In this timely book, Axel Bruns argues that the influence of echo chambers and filter bubbles has been severely overstated, and results from a broader moral panic about the role of online and social media in society. Our focus on these concepts, and the widespread tendency to blame platforms and their algorithms for political disruptions, obscures a far more critical question: what are the social and political drivers that have led to the rise of populism and hyperpolarization in many established and emerging democracies, and how can we reverse this dangerous trend? Bruns evaluates the evidence for and against echo chambers and filter bubbles, and offers a persuasive argument for why we should shift our focus to more important problems.

Are Filter Bubbles Real? is important reading for students and scholars of media, communication, journalism, and politics, as well as general readers concerned about current challenges to public debate and the democratic process.

1 Introduction: More than a Buzzword?
2 Echo Chambers? Filter Bubbles? What are They?
3 Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles in Action
4 Bursting the Bubble
5 Conclusion: Polarised but not Disconnected