The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You

by Eli Pariser
     
 

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An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling-and limiting-the information we consume.

In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to

Overview

An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling-and limiting-the information we consume.

In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years-the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society-and reveals what we can do about it.

Though the phenomenon has gone largely undetected until now, personalized filters are sweeping the Web, creating individual universes of information for each of us. Facebook-the primary news source for an increasing number of Americans-prioritizes the links it believes will appeal to you so that if you are a liberal, you can expect to see only progressive links. Even an old-media bastion like The Washington Post devotes the top of its home page to a news feed with the links your Facebook friends are sharing. Behind the scenes a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking your personal information to sell to advertisers, from your political leanings to the color you painted your living room to the hiking boots you just browsed on Zappos.

In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs-and because these filters are invisible, we won't know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas.

While we all worry that the Internet is eroding privacy or shrinking our attention spans, Pariser uncovers a more pernicious and far- reaching trend on the Internet and shows how we can- and must-change course. With vivid detail and remarkable scope, The Filter Bubble reveals how personalization undermines the Internet's original purpose as an open platform for the spread of ideas and could leave us all in an isolated, echoing world.

Editorial Reviews

You probably didn't notice it, but in December 2009, your internet changed. During that month, Google began customizing search results for each of its billions of users, based on our previous click-on history. Before long, other websites, including those keyed into Facebook, also adapted personalizing searching. Though designed for user convenience, this policy change has had a major secondary effect: Its prioritized links give us what is pleasant, familiar and confirming our beliefs, filtering out statistically less appealing results. Thus, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, you will have to dig deep to find news sources from opposing views. That, according to author Eli Pariser, is just one disturbing byproduct of this ever-refined monitoring. In The Filter Bubble, he describes the phenomenal growth of data companies devoted to mining your web history for resalable data about everything from your shopping habits to your political preferences. Alarming; informative; destined to make headlines.

Evgeny Morozov
…[Pariser] is to be commended for reinvigorating the conversation about the dangers of online personalization. And The Filter Bubble deserves praise for drawing attention to the growing power of information intermediaries whose rules, protocols, filters and motivations are not always visible.
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
"A powerful indictment of the current system." —The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594203008
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/12/2011
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
8.36(w) x 5.68(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Lawrence Lessig
"For more than a decade, reflective souls have worried about the consequences of perfect personalization. Eli Pariser’s is the most powerful and troubling critique yet."--(Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, Free Culture and Code)
David Kirkpatrick
"Eli Pariser is worried. He cares deeply about our common social sphere and sees it in jeopardy. His thorough investigation of Internet trends got me worried, too. He even taught me things about Facebook. It's a must-read."--(David Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect)
Douglas Rushkoff
"Eli Pariser isn’t just the smartest person I know thinking about the relationship of digital technology to participation in the democratic process—he is also the most experienced. The Filter Bubble reveals how the world we encounter is shaped by programs whose very purpose is to narrow what we see and increase the predictability of our responses. Anyone who cares about the future of human agency in a digital landscape should read this book."--(Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc. and Program or Be Programmed)
Steven Levy
"‘Personalization’ sounds pretty benign, but Eli Pariser skillfully builds a case that its excess on the Internet will unleash an information calamity—unless we heed his warnings. Top notch journalism and analysis."--(Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives)
From the Publisher
"A powerful indictment of the current system." —-The Wall Street Journal
Craig Newmark
"The Internet software that we use is getting smarter, and more tailored to our needs, all the time. The risk, Eli Pariser reveals, is that we increasingly won't see other perspectives. In The Filter Bubble, he shows us how the trend could reinforce partisan and narrow mindsets, and points the way to a greater online diversity of perspective."--(Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist)
Clay Shirky
"Internet firms increasingly show us less of the wide world, locating us in the neighborhood of the familiar. The risk, as Eli Pariser shows, is that each of us may unwittingly come to inhabit a ghetto of one."--(Clay Shirky, author Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus)
George Lakoff
In The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser reveals the news slogan of the personalized internet: Only the news that fits you we print."--(George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant! and The Political Mind)
Bill McKibben
"You spend half your life in Internet space, but trust me—you don't understand how it works. Eli Pariser’s book is a masterpiece of both investigation and interpretation; he exposes the way we’re sent down particular information tunnels, and he explains how we might once again find ourselves in a broad public square of ideas. This couldn’t be a more interesting book; it casts an illuminating light on so many of our daily encounters."--(Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and The End of Nature, and founder 350.org)

Meet the Author

Eli Pariser is the Board President, and former Executive Director, of the 5-million member organization MoveOn.org. A pioneer in online politics, Pariser is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a co-founder of Avaaz.org, one of the world’s largest citizen organizations. His op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal. He grew up in Lincolnville, Me.

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