Are we all living in our own bubble? This harsh reality dawned on all Hillary Clinton supporters with the result of the 2016 U.S Presidential election. The polls said it was not possible, all facebook friends were supporting Hillary and the news on T.V said that the race was not even close. Finally, people attributed the shocking result to deep anger and silence of people supporting the other side. It was also concluded that most of Trump’s supporters felt suppressed by the rest of the country and they spoke with their vote. Did all the 62 million people who voted for Trump stay silent on social media throughout the campaign?
The answer to this question lies in the business model of all modern day social media apps. The primary source of revenue for most of them is advertisements. Companies like facebook and google have access to your browsing habits from which they are able to deduce sensitive personal information like health problems, political beliefs, location, spending habits etc. This changed the entire advertisement landscape with the advent of targeted advertising. These websites are now able to generate and show more personalized content along with personalized advertisements based on your browsing habits. For example, if you are in the market for a new house then facebook can show you ads about companies that offer low mortgage rates. This is what precisely created a bubble around the people closely following the 2016 election.
Given the vested interest of facebook and google in generating more ad revenue, their websites displayed content that you would most likely interact with. For Hillary supporters, this meant that there was a higher chance of them finding articles supporting Hillary and vice versa for Trump supporters. Each trapped in their own bubble did not realize that there was an alternate reality with people having different opinions. More focus on generating personalized content translated to the creation of a bubble around oneself with defined boundaries. The more you browse about a specific issue, the deeper you go into your bubble.