I recently viewed a TED Talk by Eli Pariser called Beware online ‘filter bubbles’. In this segment, Pariser discusses how web giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo are personalizing your online experience to only include content they perceive to be of interest to you. Instead of filtering content based on keyword searches alone, these giants use things like cookies and browsing history to provide you with your own “filter bubble.”
The problem with this type of internet personalization is that consumers do not get to decide what information comes their way. “[T]he Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see.” Content we may want is edited out and we are surrounded by “information junk food.” When we are in our own bubbles, we are unable to view content that is relevant to our searches.
For example, I use Google Alerts to monitor news about our clients and their products. I have very specific keywords for each client, however I receive many alerts that have no relation to our clients. Instead of expanding my search, Google has filtered out information leaving me with content that is irrelevant. Google Alerts are also personalized based on who is managing them. I can have the same keywords for a client as a coworker, yet we receive completely different results.
Pop the Bubble
We need to break through our filter bubbles so our internet experience includes other people’s perspectives, opinions, and points of view. We want search engines that are transparent enough to let us decide what enters our individual bubbles. Here are a couple of ways to pop your bubble:
- Delete your cookies and browsing history OR
- Set up your browser so every time you exit the information is cleared allowing you to start with a clean slate
By popping these “filter bubbles”, we can connect and reach out to consumers outside our normal comfort zones.