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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Should Google and Facebook Be Filtering Our Content For Us? | WebProNews

Should Google and Facebook Be Filtering Our Content For Us?

Personalization, relevance, and information overload in search and social media

Is the personalization of the Internet a step backwards? Is the wealth of information that is accessible to us being reduced because the products we use are filtering it all so heavily? This is a discussion that has been gaining momentum in recent weeks.

Do you want your search results and news tailored to your tastes, or do you want more control? Let us know in the comments.

The topic was brought up most recently by alternative search engine DuckDuckGo, which calls out the major search engines for being too heavy on the content filtering. DuckDuckGo has set up a site at, which provides something of a graphical slideshow to illustrate its point. If you strip out all of the graphics and sub-text, it reads:

When you search the Internet, search engines now show different results to different people. Results are tailored to who you are, based on your search history and your click history. Since you often click on things you agree with, you keep getting more and more of what you already agree with, which means other stuff gets demoted (effectively filtered). This begs the question: what are you missing?

In other words, you are living in a Filter Bubble that promotes things it thinks you’ll like, and demotes (effectively filters) out some of the rest, which may limit your exposure to opposing information. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to pop your filter bubble, because the technology is used so much across the Internet.

Then it turns into an ad for DuckDuckGo:

We offer you an alternative: a search engine that breaks you out of your Filter Bubble by default, plus other differences like real privacy.

Founder Gabriel Weinberg discussed these differences with WebProNews in an interview earlier this year:

Of course, DuckDuckGo is not above some level of filtering. It’s already pre-filtered out results from sites like eHow, which many may applaud, but others may not appreciate. For all of the controversy that’s surrounded eHow, it also has its fans, and Demand Media, which owns it, claims to be taking action to make its quality better. The point is, there is some level of filtering going on, though this is more at the human level, than at the personalized algorithmic level.

The “Filter Bubble”

This “Filter Bubble” DuckDuckGo speaks of is a concept discussed by Eli Pariser in a recent TED Talk, which can be viewed here:

Pariser had some interesting things to say, speaking directly to executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other companies, who were in the audience. In his presentation, he included a couple of interesting quotes – from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt:

“A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” – MZ

“It will very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” – ES

Pariser talked about being a political progressive, but liking to hear what conservatives have to say, but noticing that all of the conservative posts had disappeared from his Facebook News Feed because Facebook had noticed he was clicking more on liberal links than conservative ones.

Video Link...

“Facebook isn’t the only place that’s doing this kind of invisible algorithmic editing of the web,” he said. “Google’s doing it too. If I search for something and you search for something even right now at the same time, we may get very different search results…There is no standard Google anymore.”

Read More and See Both Videos...

About Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

Well, I just Added as my Top Search Engine in my Firefox Search Window!:)


Should Google and Facebook Be Filtering Our Content For Us?
Should Google and Facebook Be Filtering Our Content For Us? | WebProNews
Escape your search engine Filter Bubble!

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