To Censor Google Search Results Through Personalization

May 12, 2011 • 7:53 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Technology

Information BubblesEli Pariser gave an interesting presentation at TED named Beware online "filter bubbles". In short he goes through how when Google and Facebook use personalization to show you results, i.e. Google search results or Facebook status updates, it can be a form of censorship.

For example, Facebook shows you more information from your closer friends then others. They do not post all of your friends data on your home page because Facebook wants you to see things they think you find more interesting. Google is slowly incorporating social elements in search results and he also talks about how Google is using other means to personalize the search results (i.e. location, browser, language, web history, friends, etc.).

Watch the video - trust me - it will go by fast:

Do you think that this is a form of censorship? Take my poll:

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Ian Williams

05/12/2011 12:23 pm

As I said in my comments to the TED talk, the proliferation of choice these days and subsequent information overload has led to a requirement for information to be filtered. Accordingly, information providers (I am including Google here) have had to provide the capacity to streamline the information you receive in order to retain market position. With people being time poor, they've either filtered intentionally (or had it done for them algorithmically) to what is of their highest interest at that point, politically, culturally, artistically. The net effect has been that having so much choice has effectively meant most of us are even more closeted-off from differing points of view than ever before. I don't think you can call that censorship, though. Censorship - to me - implies forced, targeted exclusion of information on ideological grounds. That isn't the aim of Google or Facebook's filtering.

Roie S

05/12/2011 12:35 pm

Excellent presentation, especially the last minute of it. I think he didn't put enough emphasis on the fact most people aren't even aware of the fact that their results are filtered and therefor biased by a machine. Even more, they are not aware of how much bias - especially if you're logged with your search history.

SEO Dublin

05/12/2011 10:09 pm

Thanks for sharing this video I really found this interesting and it gave me a diff perspective as to how the internet works in terms of filtering information, cheers.


05/13/2011 01:54 pm

I don't know if you can hear it, but that's the sound of  a  ' blown out of proportion conspiracy alert ' Though I totally support some sort of regulation when it comes to corporates activity  &  think that these  organisations who have  a big impact on our lives should  recognize  theוr social  responsibility, I still think that it's  kind of a naive perspective in relation to  a commercial saturated media like the internet & that's probably what personalization is all about - selling personalized products & services to the masses. Take for example the news papers & TV channels as gate keepers, do they truly  give us all the info we need to know?  Do we really need info from Prime time TV & Tabloids ? will it make us better, smarter & socially aware human beings ? I don't think that Google  / Facebook are functioning as  some sort of main gate keepers because people still rely on other sources of media & publishers to get info. 

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