The Filter Bubble, By Eli Pariser


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This book starts with a disquieting revelation for Google users. In 2009, the search engine announced "a personalised search for everyone". Google now uses 57 signals, including location and previous searches, to personalise information. This is an example of what Pariser terms "the filter bubble".

Invisible ("Google's agenda is opaque") and involuntary ("because they drive up profits they'll become harder to avoid"), it has the effect of atomising society. The result is "a kind of global lobotomy".

He contrasts this with papers like the New York Times, which continues to put Afghanistan on the front page, though "the story is convoluted, complex and depressing".

Surprisingly, the index of this scary work does not include George Orwell.