The Filter Bubble Disguised as Personalization
The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser is a book I recommend reading since most of us are online, searching for information probably not aware of what is happening with our data while we click away.
“The primary purpose of an editor [is] to extend the horizon of what people are interested in and what people know. Giving people what they think they want is easy, but it’s also not very satisfying: the same stuff, over and over again. Great editors are like great matchmakers: they introduce people to whole new ways of thinking, and they fall in love.” ~ Eli Pariser
Pariser shares “Your filter bubble is the personal universe of information that you live in online — unique and constructed just for you by the array of personalized filters that now power the web. Facebook contributes things to read and friends’ status updates, Google personally tailors your search queries, and Yahoo News and Google News tailor your news.”
The filter bubble is populated by the things that most compel you to click. Think about what you are looking for when you search and click around the Internet. You may be looking for medical information, want to know about a celebrity, or just want to shop. These may be highly personal to you but they may not be the same things you need to know or want to learn.
Google declares that search is personalized for everyone, and tailors its search results on an individual basis. When you search a topic, your results will be different than someone else’s search results. The reason companies like Google and Facebook use algorithms is that, once you’ve got them going, they cost much less than hiring humans to edit the news feed or find relevant information for you. Unfortunately, you may get results based on past searches, text in email messages, chats, and just clicking on different pages while trying to find what you are looking for. Each click is captured. Each time you “like” a friend or post, that is captured as “personalized” for you.
I have several gmail accounts so Google keeps all of my email received or sent so it knows who I’m connected to and all of their information. Google knows what I’ve searched for over so many years, and how much time it took me to search for something and how long I took to click a link or stay on a page. Are you aware that there are 57 signals that Google tracks about each user even if you’re not logged in?
This is not personal. It’s business. It is another way to push products, services, people, and other items to you based on their algorithms. I receive ads for coach products because of my company, My eCoach. This has nothing to do with wanting or needing any coach products. It’s just seems relevant to the algorithms. I also get trends and news sent to me even though I’m not interested in what is sent to me. I learn about different stars breaking up and other not so interesting news. I really don’t need that either.
“Companies like Yahoo have turned over massive amounts of data to the US government without so much as a subpoena.” ~ Eli Pariser
There’s a basic problem with a system where Google makes billions off of the data we give it without giving us much control over how it’s used or even what it is.
Pariser states a profound concern “Personalization is sort of privacy turned inside out: it’s not the problem of controlling what the world knows about you, it’s the problem of what you get to see of the world. We ought to have more control over that — one of the most pernicious things about the filter bubble is that mostly it’s happening invisibly — and we should demand it of the companies we use.”
Go ahead and click the image below to get the book: