A recent interview by Cnet with author Eli Pariser showed his opinions on why a hyper-personalized Web is detrimental to the user.  Parsier is the author of “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You,” which argues that Google and Facebook’s attempts to make the Internet as user structured as possible will lead to some very negative outcomes.

Through the interview Pariser voices his concerns about the ability of modern search engines and websites in general to track a user’s progression from one site to another.  Beyond this Gmail, Facebook and many other site target advertisements based on usage history.  Like most users there is a good chance that you don’t even realize that it is happening but short of taking special precautions every person who opens a web browser is tracked in one way or another.

The reason this invasion of privacy exists is impart because we demand it.  As users we have come to expect customization out of our web experience.  We create profiles on websites to save time or request recommendations from web stores.  Every piece of information we post makes it easier to target us with information and advertisements.   While most peoples initial reaction to the fact is outcry over violation of privacy but I have to ask why?

I know many people would disagree, some of which are within our company, but I LIKE personalization.  Advertisements will exist on the websites you visit even if they are not targeted; isn’t it better that they are for things that interest you?  In almost all cases the algorithms that choose the display ads are automated so that no human ever sees your private information. Even if your information is sold it is done so at such a high quantity that individual records became insignificant and transparent.

Profile information is a touchier subject since it often contains much more personal information.  In this case leaked or sold information could actually be a threat to the user.  However, this is a good example of where it should be the responsibility of the user to act intelligently.  If you really don’t want your information to be shared simply don’t post it online!  Most profiles are optional and no one forces you to use all the services of the web.  Like everything, convenience has its price.  The question for you is do you think it’s worth it?

This is a hot topic for many people and we want to hear what you have to say.  Disagree with me? Then let us know and voice your opinions below.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department