73% Say Personalized Search Results Is Censorship

Jun 8, 2011 • 8:37 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Social Search Engines & Optimization

censor personalize pollAbout a month ago, I showed you all a presentation given by Eli Pariser at TED named Beware online "filter bubbles".

The argument is very convincing, and I strongly recommend you watch it, if you have not done so already.

It makes the argument that personalization on the web, which is growing and growing - is a form of censorship and we shouldn't have it in many cases.

So I ran a poll asking SEOs, who should fundamentally understand the reason and technical pieces of personalized search results, if they felt it was a form of censorship and 73% said yes, it is a form of censorship.

I asked: "Is Personalization A Form Of Censorship?"

  • 73% said Yes
  • 23% said No
  • 4% said other

I believe I was part of the 23% this time.

Forum discussion continued at WebmasterWorld.

Note: This story was written earlier this week and scheduled to be published today.

Previous story: 85% Say They Have Zero Recovery From Google's Panda Update


Nick Stamoulis

06/08/2011 02:41 pm

I read a great article a few weeks ago where the author said that search personalization is taking the discovery out of search. If search gets tailored to your habits, it cuts out the chance to accidentally stumble upon new information. It's more of a self-imposed censorship than anything.

Kate O'Neill

06/08/2011 03:38 pm

Very interesting results. That doesn't jive with my thinking about personalization at all (and it sounds like it doesn't jive with yours either if you're in the 23% minority), so it's a great reminder that we are not our audience. :) Your readers may also be interested in the article I just had published at CMO.com which deals with another aspect of this "filter bubbles" topic: http://www.cmo.com/optimization/narcissism-personalizations-flip-side


06/08/2011 04:05 pm

I can see why 73% of SEOs think this. For those users logged into their Google account all the time, personalization probably significantly degrades the value of traditional SEO. When you are not logged in, as far as I know, there is no significant personalization. Given that logging in is a user-choice, I'm not sure if I can call it censorship...  However, I've still got to think about this a bit.  A good follow up article would be -- "Succeeding at SEO in the Age of Personalization". I'd like to read that one :)

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