Bursting Personalization Filter Bubbles

filter bubble

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the Google filter bubbles. The premise is that due to personalization features becoming an important part of how we interact on the web as well as the content that is displayed to us. Links that we tend to click more readily given a higher priority in our search results, whereas those that don’t get click on fade into the ether. The inherent danger with this process is that we do not readily gain access to or are shown all the other websites that the internet has to offer.

The personalization of the modern web removes this diversification and creates a self-based bias (usually unbeknownst to the user), putting is in a narrow loop of information known as the "filter bubble."

MS patent

Microsoft’s Facebook partnership along with the Bing search engine has already allowed for the incorporation of the preferences of users friends into the returned search results. A new patent application from Microsoft describes a "user-following engine" that would not only analyze a users posts on Facebook, Twitter and other connected social networks to deduce a users mood, interests, education level and comprehension of specific topics. The new system would automatically adjust the users search experience and results based on this information to better align with these social signals.

Although the patent was filed in 2010, the details have just been made public. At this point there is no indication that Microsoft plans to move ahead with the patent, but if personalization results are where the net is taking us, I just hope that browsers will allow a user to disable the personalization filters with the click of a button. I think the biggest concern over personalization is where is it taking us? It seems to me that there is a fine line between an enhanced user experience and a decidedly Orwellian future.

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