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Publisher's Summary

In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years: the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society - and reveals what we can do about it.
Though the phenomenon has gone largely undetected until now, personalized filters are sweeping the Web, creating individual universes of information for each of us. Facebook - the primary news source for an increasing number of Americans - prioritizes the links it believes will appeal to you so that if you are a liberal, you can expect to see only progressive links. Even an old-media bastion like The Washington Post devotes the top of its home page to a news feed with the links your Facebook friends are sharing. Behind the scenes, a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking your personal information to sell to advertisers, from your political leanings to the color you painted your living room to the hiking boots you just browsed on Zappos.
In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs - and because these filters are invisible, we won't know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas. While we all worry that the Internet is eroding privacy or shrinking our attention spans, Pariser uncovers a more pernicious and far-reaching trend and shows how we can - and must - change course.
©2011 Eli Pariser (P)2011 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Brian Esserlieu on 05-26-11

Now in the top 3 best books I've ever read

I rarely write reviews for anything so please know that when reading this. *I give this book my highest recommendation*

I discovered this book when I opened one of those viral emails that got distributed to me by a friend about Eli Pariser's "The Filter Bubble" presentation he gave at the 2011 TED talks. This video was very interesting to me, and when I learned he was just summarizing his thesis for his book of the same name, I immediately investigated.

I read a few reviews for this book and decided to give it a try. I was hooked in the first chapter. This book is incredible! I have just finished it this morning, and honestly believe it is the most impactful and insightful book users of Google and Facebook should understand. None more than a great (paraphrased) quote: Chances are if you are using a free online service, *you* are actually the product being marketed.

To be straight forward though, I must confess that I am a computer science student, and aim to venture in the world of internet technologies, and as a result I found this book particularly relevent towards what I would like to do in the future. Having said that, in no way shape or form should anyone think this book is less relevant if they know nothing about Google's search algorithms.

If you've never done a lot of Google searches, or do not have a Facebook account, you may not find this book particularly helpful. For people that find themselves on computers as often or more often than watching TV, this book is worth taking a look at.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ramon on 11-22-11

A must read!

Eli Pariser's Filter Bubble is among the best ever written on the dangers posed by over-personalization in the Social Media Age. The tendency of FaceBook, Google and others to give us what they think we like is leading to a fracturing of our society and our isolation. I recommend that everyone read and learn about the Filter Bubble. The consequence of failure will lead directly to a major catastrophic decline in the quality of our interactions and defeating the promise of an Open and Free Internet.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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