I’ve been ranting lately about issues raised by Eli Pariser’s book “The Filter Bubble.” Essentially, he argues that all major online sites collect data on us and make judgements about us based on that data.They share that data with other sites all the time.
This data very significantly impacts what we see when we sign in online. It’s not just advertising, but news, people to follow, and just about anything else you can follow.
In my previous post, I reported on how Facebook–the apparent worst culprit of these data assumptions–has pushed me away from many of my online friends. By the hefty response, it seems many people have had similar experiences and on more sites than just Facebook.
Earlier today, Rebecca Slossberg posted a response to my post, mentioning that Klout has taken a nice step in the right direction. You can now go to their site and look yourself up. Then you can see the topics on which you are being measured. You then have the choice to opt out on any topic that you consider to be irrelevant to how you choose to be measured, judged and profiled by online sites. For example, Klout said that I had influence on the topic of “Muslims.” I don’t know how they based that–nor does it matter, because I could very simply opt out.
Klout, like Facebook, has been no stranger to controversies But Klout has consistently demonstrated that it listens to users and cares about what we think. Not bad thing, if you happen to be in the influence-measurement business.
I commend them for their leadership in the right direction. They go further than other sites, but still it is but a baby step in the right direction, if you ask me.
Ultimately, you and I have the right to review the data being gathered on us. We have the right to correct errors and assumptions being made and marketed by data aggregators. Not only that, we should have the right to do this before they use it in any way whatsoever.
Newspapers or TV stations that spread lies about people because they did not properly check their facts get sued for libel. They lose credibility and this lose influence.
But online, assumptions about us are used to impact what is published about us and what we see is published. Our US Constitution is a wonderful and wise document, but back then such issues could not even be perceived.
But in this Conversational Age, I think there needs to be some new essential human rights. We should have the right to opt in–or at least rebut–what is being said behind our backs by online people who then decide to put in front of our faces. It should be at least as easy to see the data being collected online as it is to review our own credit reports.
There are those who tell me I should get over whatever it is that is bothering me. That this is the way it is and will be. Would those same people have told slaves they should always be slaves or women that they should not be allowed to drive or vote?
We users should have the right to opt in on what is said about us by content providers. We should have the right to edit out that which is untrue. We should have the right to see diverse views from diverse people whom we choose over the decisions made by software robots and the content providers who deploy them.
I seems to me that this right would be self-evident.