webmetamorphoses

Your online marketing non-guru resources

The filter bubble effect

In his book Escaping the filter bubble, Eli Pariser[1] argues that the internet’s evolution towards personalization alters the way in which information is perceived as we enter our own interests and likes “filter bubble”.  Therefore, by having our own ideas bounce back at us, we unknowingly indoctrinate ourselves. You may think you’re the captain of your own destiny, but the personalization can lead you down a road to a kind of informational determinism in which what you’ve clicked on in the past determines what you see next–a Web history you’re doomed to repeat. You can get stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of yourself–an endless you-loop.[2]

He further argues that targeted ads may seem harmless, but not in the context of something like five hundred companies that are able to track every move one makes on the Internet and selling private data to marketers.

In the Darwinian environment of the hyper-relevant news feed, content about issues like homelessness or climate change can’t compete with goofy viral videos, celebrity news, and kittens. The public sphere falls out of view. And that matters, because while we can lose sight of our common problems, they don’t lose sight of us.[3]

There is no doubt a case for internet companies to give users more control over the personal information being held about them. But users do have however some degree of control. They can turn off personalization or favor sites that are transparent about the ways in which they filter and present information.

I would argue that the filter bubble is a mental construct that can be easily changed if one modifies its preferences. For example, moving from a low-income status to a higher-income one determines one to change the way he perceives the world: from the brand choices to music preferences and choice of holidays. Moreover, cookies do not store personal information such as name, address, phone number etc., so they do not pose a real threat to one’s future privacy.


[1] Eli Pariser is the chief executive of Upworthy a web site for viral meaningful content launched in March 2012 together with Peter Koechley, the former managing editor of The Onion. It is backed by Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook

[2] Sci/Tech, Escaping the Filter Bubble, http://www.wfs.org/content/escaping-filter-bubble Last consulted on 20 January 2013

[3] Eli Pariser, Filter Bubble meet Upworthy, March 26, 2012, http://www.thefilterbubble.com/ Last consulted on 20 January 2013

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This entry was posted on October 21, 2013 by in Privacy online and tagged , , , , , .
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