Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser

The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You is an interesting book. It basically goes into detail on how information is collected via the web from sites such as Google, Amazon and Facebook and what those companies do or intend to do with the collected information. A basic history of various companies like Amazon is given along with details on how they use your search history or purchase history to recommend products/provide search results/advertise etc. etc.
The author states the advantages of this, e.g. when I type in ‘Cubs’ into Google I am very likely to get very different search results to someone living in Chicago typing in ‘Cubs’. But it can also have its disadvantages, e.g. if I click on loads of celebrity related news stories while browsing Google news, it doesn’t mean that I am not interested in serious stuff even if I was to only read the headlines.

As I said it’s interesting stuff, especially for people like me who know very little about how the internet works. Unfortunately the author gives very little information on what an individual can actually do about it. I’m still going to use Facebook and I’m still going to order stuff from Amazon, aside from the usual precautions that I assume most people take anyway (like not giving your address on Facebook) there’s not really any further precautions someone can take (aside from not using the internet at all)

Of course like most books written on something as fast moving as the internet this book will be outdated soon so if you are interested in it then it’s best to pick it up within the next year or so.

Alot of the legislation regarding privacy stated in the book refers only to American law and this coupled with the fact that companies such as netflick (is that it?) are mentioned I’m not sure if a non-American would get the most out of this one.

Posted by Jess

1 comment:

  1. Something that helps is clearing your browser history every time you finish a session, because a lot of these things rely on the cookies your computer stores (which are deleted when you clear history). It means that you'll have to sign in to sites again whereas you might find now that Amazon etc greet you each time you go to them, but it's worth it if you want more privacy.

    Also, using browser addons that block adverts on sites helps.

    It's never going to stop everything, because simply by using the internet you're compromising privacy, but it helps.