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The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  5,284 ratings  ·  553 reviews
An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling - and limiting - the information we consume.

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 MoveOn.org board preside
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published May 12th 2011 by Penguin Press (first published 2011)
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 ·  5,284 ratings  ·  553 reviews

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Daniel M.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book because it’s very well-known, because he gave a famous talk about this at a recent TED conference, and because I work and do research on how people think about the information they get from the internet. In the end, Pariser and I both think about these things a great deal—he worries deeply and writes a book that has essentially one complaint in it. His complaint? Internet companies provide personalization services that distort/affect/limit what you can see and it’s hard to know ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, if you want to be terrified about how the web is scooping information about us, stereotyping us, pigeonholing us, basically doing the opposite of what we thought the web was GOING to do for society, then read this book. At the very least, it helps become informed about exactly what we do when we surf the web. Nothing is safe online. Everything you do online is defining you in ways you never thought you'd be defined. Everything you do is hackable. The future is even worse in those respects. ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

The first half of this book is a solid 5 star read and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about social engineering and the Internet and some of the ways we are heavily manipulated through our searches, likes, clicks.

The author got a bit carried away and dragged the story out, taking away some of the impact so that is why I didn't give it a 5 star all the way through.

I think an important message is that people have to be diligent about looking for information ,
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The big message in this book is that "curators'" of information on the Internet, like Google and Facebook, use of personalization has significant negative consequences. If I search for something on Google, I am going to get results tailored to where I am and who Google "thinks" I am. Pariser argues that we are less and less confronted with ideas we don't agree with or new and surprising ideas.

The biggest issue is not even that the personalization is happening , but that it is completely opaque a
Matt Maldre
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. Here are the notes I wrote in the margins while reading it on the Kindle.

Page 15
Note: This is why I love going to libraries. The chance encounter of a new topic you never thought of exploring. (256)
Page 17
Note: I need to go to town hall meetings (279)
Page 20
Notes on this intro: I don't mind companies targeting me as I live my life much with a transparent attitude. However the author makes very good point that we eac
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
It's ironic how I became aware of this book and read it, given the topic of filtering and personalization. I found this book serendipitously. I was in the public library waiting for a workstation to open up. I was standing at the beginning of the non-fiction book section. This book has Dewey decimal number 004.678, right at eye-level where I happened to be standing, idly waiting. "Oh," I thought, "This looks interesting." I flipped though it and decided to check it out and read it. Just what the ...more
Angie Boyter
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NOTE: A month after writing my original review I changed my rating from 4 to 5 because of how it has stayed with me and the number of interesting conversations I have had about it.
In the introduction to The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser delivers a very thought-provoking message: the internet is getting better and better at knowing what we want and personalizing what we see, and that is not necessarily a good thing. We all want searches and websites to show us what we are after, but the more our com
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very important book for anyone who uses the internet. The big providers -- Facebook and Google especially -- filter the content they present to you, without telling you and without your permission. Even if you think you've elected to receive everything. They do it in the name of personalization, but it's largely to services advertisers, and it affects your online experience in insidious ways.

This book is short, well-written, and easy to understand. Although written by a well-known liberal act
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The Mosaic Browser unleashed the internet boom of the 1990s. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois in Urbana–Champaign developed it in late 1992. NCSA released the browser in 1993. It was a 'Killer App' which brought the Graphical User Interface in our quest to search and navigate the exploding wealth of distributed information that was on offer. Edward Snowden says that the Internet was mostly made of, by, and for the people till about 1998. It ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Eli Pariser argues in The Filter Bubble that "rise of pervasive , embedded filtering is changing the way we experience the internet and ultimately the world." Now that companies can aggregate our web behaviors, likes, and purchases, online profiles of web users can be built that can be profitably sold to interested parties. This book therefore covers two issues: total personalization of delivered web data, and nature of these created web personas.

Regarding the first issue, I'm not as concerned
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Please, please, guys, read this book. It's your future and your data we're talking about. ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book holds up even though it was published several years ago. While some info may be outdated, the book focuses on the psychology and other larger issues behind our use of technology/the internet/social media, and so it still has a lot to offer by way of encouraging critical thinking about what companies want out of us and how it shapes our behavior. The book is well-written, engaging, and largely still relevant, and where it isn't, it's curious to see how the future diverged from what was ...more
Nancy Mills
Aug 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting and important topic. Well written.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
A better entry than The Googlization of Everything:, this one actually references that book, but it still can't escape the "being alarmist but not having any real catastrophic consequences to point to" trap. It's getting kind of easy to recognize the arguments. First there's this fact which is kind of unsettling, then that fact which is kind of unsettling, and then there's launching into a fear of something extreme resulting which doesn't really follow from the basic facts. And, one of my pet pe ...more
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Admittedly, upon initial reading, began by sharpening the cutlery and prepared to launch into critical invective about this book. But it was not a terrible read at all, and the Mr. Pariser struck salience at a number of points.

I just reject the overt thesis that personalized filtering is the great 21st century media Satan. Yes, lack of serendipity is of some concern, but not the petrifying bogeyman that seems to warrant most of the book's main topic is way overblown, in an age where a discernin
Kate Woods Walker
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Although much-discussed in the past year and oft-quoted amongst the websites, blogs and message boards I frequent, The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser, for me, was a rather plodding look at internet "personalization" trends. I found myself putting the book aside and forgetting to take it up again, perhaps due to the immediacy of the internet itself, which made much of what Pariser presented already old news to his intended audience.

But it was a good, solid book about an important subject, so perha
Margaret Sankey
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Pariser dissects the dark side of the algorithms that allow search engines to guess what we want--the results aren't just tailored to what we want, but to what advertisers and perhaps more nefarious editors want us to see, not to mention the extremely easy habit of only reading what we agree with or what back-fills our own confirmation biases. While I am not sure that there is a technological or regulatory solution for even the privacy aspects of this, it speaks to a drum I am constantly poundin ...more
Who doesn't like something individualized for them? Facebook, Google and Amazon, not to mention every other website are busy trying to tailor their customers' experiences and personalizing them. But if you search engine gives you different results than everyone else, how do we build a public community of shared facts.

Why I started this book: It was a short audio, and as a librarian, the topic of information access is always interesting to me.

Why I finished it: I didn't know about some of these a
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such an interesting book. If you use the Internet in any capacity (hint if you’re reading this, you do), you should read this or something like it. Hopefully there is more awareness around this than there was when the book was written, but sadly many people don’t realize that their worlds have closed in on them so much, with personalization. I think most people see that with targeted ads, but are oblivious to it because of confirmation bias, when it comes to searching for news, or general world ...more
Huda AbuKhoti
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this.

Delete your web cookies and web history often.
David Dinaburg
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The appeal of The Filter Bubble isn’t in the oft-disheartening revelations about internet companies tracking data; that’s established and not surprising to most people. “When you read your Kindle, the data about which phrases you highlight, which pages you turn, and whether you read straight through or skip around are all fed back to Amazon’s servers and can be used to indicate what books you might like next.” What is revealing is how that targeted personalization is beginning to edge out what m ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Some great ideas and sentences, but this would have been better, I think, as a really thoughtful article in The Atlantic -- not a full book.

Kindle quotes:

A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa. —Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder - location 77

Starting that morning, Google would use fifty-seven signals—everything from where you were logging in from to what browser you were using to what you had searched for before—to mak
This book offers an eye-opening look at the way we use technology and the internet as well as the way the purveyors of popular websites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter use us.

While I was tempted to write this book off as being 'dated,' (after all it was written over eight years ago), I was very surprised at how relevant the material still is. There are some things that have changed in the last decade, but the main points of the book are valid.

Only after posting this review did I realize t
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, data-science
Too much of everything is bad, including personalization

A fascinating read on the bubble effect caused by the internet's personalization filters. It was almost an all or nothing behavior. We went from the newspaper and TV broadcasting model to the 2010s-2020s internet where each site has a different version for each user. The book discusses the problems that this filter bubble can generate. I enumerate some of them here:
1) when we are not exposed to ideas and things outside our comfort zone, we
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble is a pretty awesome book. It's quite similar to Siva Vaidhyanathan's The Googlization of Everything, published only two months earlier (which it nevertheless manages to cite), except that The Filter Bubble covers the Internet's big players in general -- Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter -- whereas The Googlization of Everything was limited to Google as a company. Pariser's metaphor of living in a "filter bubble" is similar to Vaidhyanathan's idea of humans being " ...more
Kyle van Oosterum
Nov 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely excellent and so prescient of the sneaky means social media developers have been taking to make money. Written way back in 2011, its primary focus is to critique personalization, which though appealing in some respects can be disastrous in its impact on society. Pariser’s observations are highly informative and written with an eye to gripping the reader.

One of my favorite points of his:
“Left to their own devices, personalization filters serve up a kind of invisible auto p
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though written some 7 years ago (and thus a bit outdated) the book raises questions that are more valid than ever.
The filter bubble forms our thinking and transforms us into passive consumers, rather than active creators.
What would the future be like if each one lives surrounded only by things and people they like? What if all the data available about everyone of us is used to manipulate our every decision and lure us in to thinking we are steering our lives, whereas others are doing that for u
Jacob Wighton
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
‘The Filter Bubble’ explores a simple idea: that personalisation of our online experience curates what we see, potentially hiding viewpoints that we don’t like and limiting our view of the world.

The idea is definitely worth discussing but I felt like Pariser’s writing didn’t always flow logically and occasionally jumped to conclusions that didn’t seem well founded.

Though it was written in 2010, it does make some highly prescient predictions, particularly about the huge effect that personalisatio
Jennifer Mangler
Thought-provoking. Technology has definitely changed our lives, but how? Are these changes good or bad? In essence, technology is neither good or bad, nor is it neutral. Our choices influence the creation of new technologies, and those new technologies influence our choices in return. We have to know how it works and think about how it's impacting our lives in more thoughtful ways than we have done up to now. We have to ask questions: For whom do these technologies work? What are the public outc ...more
Alex Strohschein
The premise of the book is entirely plausible: many of us are siloing ourselves off in echo chambers on the Internet. This is not always our own doing - companies are developing algorithms that will increase our exposure to particular products we might find desirable - but often we are isolating ourselves by only favouring certain websites or only following people on social media who conform to our own values. The Trump era has certainly demonstrated this, as millions tout "alternative facts" an ...more
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Chief executive of Upworthy, a website for "meaningful" viral content. He is a left-wing political and internet activist, the board president of MoveOn.org and a co-founder of Avaaz.org . ...more

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“Personalization is based on a bargain. In exchange for the service of filtering, you hand large companies an enormous amount of data about your daily life--much of which you might not trust your friends with.” 12 likes
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