Eli Pariser on the Downsides of Personalization (Video)

Published on May 20, 2011
by Liz Gannes

A personalized experience is supposed to be a good thing, right? Better than something unspecific, mass market, not your taste, lowest common denominator, or random?

But filters limit our range of perspectives. And that’s what the Web is increasingly doing, writes Eli Pariser, the board president of, in his new book “The Filter Bubble.”

News aggregators, search engines and social networks now anticipate our preferences by analyzing implicit signals about what we like and where we click. We as users help them narrow the range of perspectives we’re exposed to. And that could be a very bad thing, according to Pariser.

Pariser told All Things D in a video interview Thursday that one of the main aims of his book is to reach engineers at Facebook and Google, who wield incredible influence over many people’s Web experiences.

Pariser wants to ensure that the products these people design tell us what they know about us, especially when user data is tied to advertising.

He wants Web sites always to give us an option to see an unfiltered stream of the world when we want to take the blinders off.

And he thinks Facebook and other sites should show us content not just because it’s “liked” by lots of people, but also make decisions about what’s really important, in an eat-your-veggies kind of way.

Here’s our interview with Pariser, produced by Drake Martinet:

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