How Online Tracking and the Filter Bubble Have Come to Define Who We Are
17 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016
Date Written: July 16, 2013
From its early years as a principally research and education oriented resource, the internet has evolved into a heavily commercialized and ubiquitous component of the public’s daily routine. What technologies have facilitated this transition of the web to a commercially-focused research tool and what has been the outcome in terms of the user experience and where it is heading? This paper discusses these points and illustrates how the “web experience” has taken on a different aspect that was probably not envisaged by its early creators and users. Far from being an efficient research tool to help us make smarter decisions about what we buy, who we meet or even how we arrive at our moral and political positions, the tracking technologies that are so instrumental in furthering the objectives of the commercial players of the world wide web have arguably restricted our choices vis-à-vis research and the user experience on the internet. The choices are not necessarily smarter; they are reduced however, and certainly more efficient from a commercial standpoint; but by allowing those services such as search engines that are the gateway to internet research, to continue to track, model and predict our interests, we have delegated to them not just control of the important and much more debated matter of our privacy but also our ability to choose in an unrestricted and unfettered manner those areas and people of interest to us and thus in the context of internet socialization, the definition of our very personality.
Keywords: Internet, Privacy, Filter Bubble, Self-Determination
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