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Your personal filter bubble, or What Facebook and Google are hiding from you

You would have had to be hiding under the proverbial rock in order to avoid hearing about the concept of the “filter bubble” in the past year. It comes from peace activist and cofounder Eli Pariser’s 2011 book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. The basic idea is that the rise of “personalization” in Internet searches — the tendency of Google and Facebook and Netflix and other prominent online services to use complex algorithms to gradually tailor search results to the perceived preferences of each user — ends up blocking out the true fullness and richness of the world of information and ideas. “Search engines weight our search results to our own preferences. (My search results won’t look like yours.) Sites will filter our news (without asking us) to bring us what they think we want,” a reviewer for The Christian Science Monitor summarizes. “The consequences of this social engineering, Pariser argues, is that we interact more with people who think like we do. Rather than fulfilling the early Internet dreams of diversity and freedom of choice, we are living in an echo chamber.” Read the rest of this entry