Earlier this month, Eli Pariser gave an insightful talk about social networks and the current state of the web. If you haven’t seen this video yet, watch it. Or if you don’t have audio, or want the cliff notes, read the description below:
“As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a ‘filter bubble’ and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.”
After watching this video, I sat back for a moment and digested the ideas presented. Without going into too much detail, here are my thoughts:
We need to be in control of our filter options, and not leave this up to algorithms alone . The average, impressionable user, might be okay with Facebook or Google filtering their results based on some algorithm, but many of us are not. When Facebook started defaulting my newsfeed to “Top News” I thought, “Top news according to whom? Facebook?” Unless you’re three (and if you are, kudos for your advanced interest in social media, and the state of the internet), red flags should go up when someone other than you tries to decide what’s best for you. Which is precisely what has happened to the internet as of late.
“My camera settings are a great example. If I want an auto setting, that chooses the best settings for me, I select that. But I should also have settings I can customize—that’s true personalization.”
As Eli Pariser elaborates in the video, even Google results are now subject to this personalization. Your results might be completely different than mine. This makes me uncomfortable for one reason and one reason alone—I am not in charge of these filters. I have no say in the matter.
I echo the request of Eli Pariser to Google and Facebook—give us options. My camera settings are a great example. If I want an auto setting, that chooses the best settings for me, I select that. But I should also have settings I can customize—that’s true personalization.
Google and Facebook, you’re welcome. That one’s for free.
I’d like to hear your thoughts about online filters and the current state of the web. Leave me a comment below!