What's the (slightly pejorative) word for the way some websites provide content tailored to the "interests" (belief systems, etc.) of users, thereby preventing them (or at least greatly diminishing the opportunities) to discover other points of view?

Google does it. Twitter does it.

I regularly receives emails from Twitter, with suggestions and the latest "activity on the network" and it usually right on the money, introducing me to tweets on human rights, activism, social issues.

My problem with it is that those who need to hear of such things (the very people to whom I, as an activist, would like to reach) are those who, by the very same algorithm used by such web sites, would be prevented from coming across it.

I once saw a specific term for such an algorithm for "tailored" content.

Somehow the following questions feels connected to the feeling behind my question:
Has the term ‘weapons of mass distraction’ gotten currency as a metonym for web sites and lowbrow mass media contents?

  • Clickbait, perhaps?
    – Ste
    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:34
  • Captive website? Like en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captive_portal
    – user66974
    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:39
  • Not an answer to your question, but emails that would inform you about things that you are not interested in would be called spam. So, while I see your concern, I doubt your concern is valid: people that want to know about the subjects you mention are not denied access to that information, people that do not want to know about them do not want to receive such mails and notifications, they would consider them spam. They are still able to find the information when they change their minds.
    – oerkelens
    Dec 16, 2014 at 12:01
  • @Ste Thanks, but no. We cannot accuse a search engine like Google of clickbait. But by tailoring the search results to the "interests" of the user, the user is being prevented from discovering alternate results, differing point of views, etc.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:11
  • @Josh61 Thanks. I read the wikipedia article but it does not seem to relate to what I was trying to describe.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:11

3 Answers 3


Filter Bubble

Wikipedia says:

A filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles.

  • +1 You posted this at the same time as I was posting a comment on March Ho's answer. See my comments there. Thanks.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:28

'Targeted' is often used to describe advertisements when they are chosen to specifically match the user's preferred product types (or at least what it believed to be their preferences by the system!)

'Presonalised' can be used to to describe content tailored to match an individual's content preferences

  • Thanks. "targegeted", "personalized", "tailored": these words exactly describe the whole process. But in my question I was looking for a term that is less technical or marketing-oriented, but more pejorative, describing the negative social side effects.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:19

Echo chamber sounds like what you are describing, since competing views are excluded.

In media, an echo chamber is a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an "enclosed" system, where different or competing views are censored or disallowed.


  • +1. 'Echo chamber' comes very close to what I had in mind. Thanks. I still believe I once came across another word (with a similar pejorative meaning), but I'm not so sure anymore.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:05
  • Aha! I got it. The wikipedia article you link to, links to the following related terms. I think the word I was after was "Filter bubble", but I also previously came across "Spiral of silence" which is also relevant in my context. "Positive feedback" is more technically accurate, lacks the pejorative connotation but is equally relevant. If you edit your answer and add wikipedia links and relevant quotes of these 3 additional terms, I can accept your answer. Thanks a lot.
    – augustin
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.