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Beware of online 'filter bubbles'

Opinion, 22 March 2011

What do you see when you Google ‘Egypt’? Apparently not the same as everyone else. It turns out search results, like product recommendations based on previous buys, are actually tailored just for you. And even though too much information and too much tracking isn’t always a good thing, Eli Pariser warns us to beware of online ‘filter bubbles’:


This raises some interesting questions regarding privacy online. Some already fear that the proposed privacy “bill of rights” could lead to a sharp decline in online advertising revenues, forcing companies to charge for services that are currently free.

What do you think? Would you pay a membership fee to Facebook in exchange for your privacy or are you unperturbed that they can track your activity whenever you visit a page with a “Like” button while logged in? And is it okay for targeted advertising and entertainment to cross a line that targeted news and search should not?

About the author

I currently work as Knowledge Manager at Synovate Laboratories, the R&D centre of a global market research firm. In addition to providing project design and analytical support to senior executives around the world, I am responsible for internal web management and monitoring online media buzz. As one of the first external bloggers for WARC, I discussed a range of topics (including advances in behavioural economics and digital technology) before publishing a paper on building powerful brands. A new paper, which analyses over 100 000 consumer comments to uncover the essence of a successful ad, will be published soon.