Google’s filtering systems, for example, rely heavily on Web history and what you click on (click signals) to infer what you like and dislike. These clicks often happen in an entirely private context: The assumption is that searches for “intestinal gas” and celebrity gossip Web sites are between you and your browser. You might behave differently if you thought other people were going to see your searches. But it’s that behavior that determines what content you see in Google News, what ads Google displays—what determines, in other words, Google’s theory of you.
The basis for Facebook’s personalization is entirely different. While Facebook undoubtedly tracks clicks, its primary way of thinking about your identity is to look at what you share and with whom you interact. That’s a whole different kettle of data from Google’s: There are plenty of prurient, vain, and embarrassing things we click on that we’d be reluctant to share with all of our friends in a status update. And the reverse is true, too. I’ll cop to sometimes sharing links I’ve barely read—the long investigative piece on the reconstruction of Haiti, the bold political headline—because I like the way it makes me appear to others. The Google self and the Facebook self, in other words, are pretty different people. There’s a big difference between “you are what you click” and “you are what you share.”
Both are pretty poor representations of who we are, in part because there is no one set of data that describes who we are. “Information about our property, our professions, our purchases, our finances, and our medical history does not tell the whole story,” writes privacy expert Daniel Solove. “We are more than the bits of data we give off as we go about our lives.”
But the one-identity problem illustrates one of the dangers of turning over your most personal details to companies who have a skewed view of what identity is. Maintaining separate identity zones is a ritual that helps us deal with the demands of different roles and communities. And something’s lost when, at the end of the day, everything inside your filter bubble looks roughly the same. Your bacchanalian self comes knocking at work; your work anxieties plague you on a night out.
Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”
- Why Artificial Intelligence cannot compete with Human Intelligence (2paisa.wordpress.com)