The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You (TLC Tour Review)

Book cover for "The Filter Bubble" by Eli Pariser.Title: The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You

Author: Eli Pariser

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 304

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Review copy from the publisher, through TLC Book Tours

From the cover:

An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling — and limiting — the information we consume.

In The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, online organizer and former director of, Eli Pariser reveals just how invasive and pervasive personalization has become. Each page you land on is collecting data about you, never mind if you’ve logged in or not. It uses your online history as cues to narrow down what you will see in the future. As sites fine-tune their ability to personalize content, we will increasingly each live in our own, unique information universe, our own “filter bubble.” We’ll receive news that is familiar, pleasant, and confirms our beliefs — and since the filters are invisible, we won’t know what is being hidden from us.

Using this surprising revelation as a jumping-off point, Pariser pulls back the curtain of the Internet. He peers into the server farms, the secret algorithms, and the geeky entrepreneurs that have given us this new reality. Along the way, he also investigates the consequences of corporate power in the digital age. In the end, Pariser shares the ways that citizens and corporations can take action to alter the isolation of our filter bubbles. It is still possible to change the course of information sharing so that we are able to encounter information that sparks creativity, innovation and the democratic exchange of ideas.

The Filter Bubble will make you think twice about everything you do online, from shopping on Zappos, to browsing the news on

Okay. This book? It creeped me out.

I’ve always known that nothing you do on the internet is really private, but Pariser takes this knowledge to a whole new level. Now, I no longer have a vague feeling that somebody could find out what I was up to if they really put their minds to it – instead, I feel like people really do know what I’m up to, all the time, and that they’re using it to try to manipulate me.

I’m not sure if that was really the point of The Filter Bubble. I think that Paliser was mostly trying to expose the real practices of the internet and how we shape the internet we see (and then it, in turn, shapes what we want to see on the internet) – but I’m not sure that he meant to make me feel as paranoid as I feel right now. Maybe that feeling of paranoia will pass as more distance comes between me and the reading of this book, but I’m not sure.

What is done really well in this book is making everything understandable to people who aren’t tech geeks. Yes, there were a few times when Paliser kind of lost me, but once I re-read the sentence (or paragraph) a few times, I always figured out at least the jist of what he was trying to explain. Overall, though, the writing was clear and concise, and simple enough for a layman to understand without over-simplifying things to the point where you might as well not explain them.

I really and truly think that everyone who uses social media should read this book. Seriously. I know that it’s already changing what I think about how I use Facebook, for example … and I was already leery of the lax privacy controls on that site. And I don’t think it’s restricted to social media, either – Paliser makes a great case for why Google seems to be bending their motto of “Don’t be evil” by heading in the direction they’re going. If you use the internet at all, really, I think that you should read The Filter Bubble. It’s got loads of relevant information and interesting things you would never know that affect your day-to-day usage of the web and the assumptions you have about your privacy.

Even if you decide that it won’t change how you use or perceive the internet, I think that reading The Filter Bubble is something that you should do. At the least, it will definitely leave you more informed about your choices and what happens with the information you put out there.


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6 thoughts on “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You (TLC Tour Review)”

  1. I’m vaguely aware of some of the things discussed in this book, but I’m not sure I’ll ever want to read it – like Amy said, just thinking of it scares me a little.

    I’m aware of creating my own “filter” when it comes to what I read and view on the internet. The best example I can think of is that when I lived in the States I subscribed to the nytimes and read the paper front-to-back every day. Now that I can only read the paper online, I read far fewer articles, and usually the fluffy ones – instead of reading about what’s happening in the world I’ll read a food column. Just noticing the way I choose to “hide” things from myself unnerves me; can’t even begin to think about how websites reinforce that based on my viewing history.

  2. This sounds like a book my husband would want to read. He’s always freaked out about what info websites collect on people- not even thinking about the ones that collect without letting you know!

  3. Pingback: Review: The Filter Bubble by Eli Paliser « Amy Reads

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