The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser

The Filter Bubble has made me want to crawl into my virtual bunker and never let another picture of myself grace the internet. I sat down to read this casually one night and never stopped, reading portions out loud about how even the bank knows what I am doing online and will probably use it to tell me if I can pay back a loan or not. But as Pariser explains, even though the bank and Google and Facebook and all the other websites we visit might be privy to this virtual identity, we rarely are.

And that is the thesis of The Filter Bubble. It is not inherently wrong that websites and technologies want information about the people who are using them, but that there is no transparency. If Google is collecting mass amounts of information about me and then is personalizing my search engines, how will I ever know if they got it right?

The concept behind The Filter Bubble is that with all of the personalization happening around the web, thanks mainly to Google and Facebook, we are moving closer and closer to visiting the web in homogeneous neighborhoods of sorts that have been filtered using our information and various algorithms. Different websites do it differently, but many of the companies that Pariser described were organizations that I had never heard of, that all have disturbingly dystopian-sounding names. They collect, curate and sell our information to the companies that can afford it.

But, as Pariser is quick to point out, technology is neither good nor bad. It has no inherent leaning towards one or the other, it is a neutral thing that can be used for good or bad, like anything else. There are ways that this technology can be used for good and not evil. Fortunately, Pariser points a lot of the good that can come out of this towards the end of his book.

Pariser is a good writer who makes this interesting conundrum into an even more interesting story. The Filter Bubble is more than just a collection of evidence, it’s a history of how this technology came into existence and how websites like Google and Facebook, specifically, transformed from their original sites into the monoliths that they are now. The scope of The Filter Bubble goes beyond those giants and explores other aspects of the web, though they are the big players in the book. Pariser’s writing style is clean and readable and he makes this book relevant to a wide scope of readers. This is something that impacts those of us who have a presence on the web, which is nearly everyone.

Now, the final question is, how will the fact that I’ve posted about this book affect my personalized results on the internet? I’ll let you know.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve read everything else

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book to review. For more information on the tour, please click here

15 thoughts on “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser

  1. Seems like it should be placed in the horror section of the bookstore, right? I tested out once what prices an airline was offering on my computer vs a computer in an internet cafe. It was cheaper in the internet cafe! Guess they figured they could sell me higher priced tickets based on my previous purchase history?

  2. Eek! I have a feeling this one would completely freak me out — as does any talk about “The Internet” and all the stuff going on behind the scenes of my laptop. Still, very thought-provoking!

  3. I’m reading this book over the weekend and you’ve definitely made me a little bit more excited about it. Or nervous? Or excited? Who knows.

  4. That book sounds horrifying. Adding it to my list right now.

    The other day I stumbled upon some weird corner of my Google account where they had kept track of EVERY SINGLE THING I Googled in the past seven years (since starting my gmail account). I promptly turned that feature “off” and cleared that history. But yeah, I had how much personal information is out there on the internet.

  5. I think I’d be in the same position as you – planning you casually read but then getting pulled in and not being able to put down the book. I’m pretty sure I’d drive everyone around me crazy by reading sections aloud to them.

    This book sounds horrifying and fascinating. Thanks for the great review and for being on the tour.

  6. Sounds like a fascinating book! In journalism we talked a lot about how the way people can customize the information they receive (rather than say, getting the same news as everyone else from the 5 p.m. newscast) is starting to filter us in ways we may not like. We didn’t take a lot about how the Internet filters for us, so this might be good round out to my reading on the topic 🙂

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