Filter Bubbles and Algorithms See Right through You – or Do They?

Your online newspaper is different from mine. That’s right, we can go to the same website and get different versions. With cookies, websites keep track of user behavior and adjust the content to fit the preferences. If you’re into cooking, you will get a lot more cooking content and –ads on the same website as somebody who has clicked links about celebrities. Your daily news feed is tailored to you, not by you, but by the system’s algorithms. It is a mirror of your tastes and interests. You may even find that your self-image is different from what you actually do. This also means, taken to an extreme, that you risk only getting access to content that fits your profile and not other items that you may be interested in without knowing it. The scenario was described in 1995 by Nicholas Negroponte in what he called The Daily Me, the imaginary newspaper tailored to the reader. What was sci-fi in the Nineties is standard procedure today. The risk of isolation from other news is sometimes called the Filter Bubble- phenomenon, from a book by Eli Pariser. This is of course not exclusive to newspapers online, but all sorts of tailored content: search results, online dating suggestions, and not least adverts. But judging from the quality of the adverts I get on some of these sites, it seems however that either the algorithms need to get better, or the selection of potential ads more varied, before this dystopic vision becomes reality.