The Danger of Algorithms

The Danger of Algorithms

You might not realize it yourself but a lot of information that you get via social networks and the web in general in edited for you. Facebook chooses which friends appear in your news feed. Every time you search on Google the results are tailored based on 57 signals that Google reads about you (when you are logged in to a Google account there are even more).

The reason this has happened is because of the sheer volume of information and content out there on the web. In the old days the information we consumed was controlled by editors. Editors play a vital role in sifting out the volume and leaving us with the important content but those editors are increasingly being replaced by algorithms on sites like Facebook and Google and pretty much most of the other big sites you use on the web. Even though most people don’t even know that they are seeing content based on algorithms it’s widely believed that they are a good thing because they make content more relevant and cut down on the amount of time you waste consuming information that you don’t need to.

This video of a talk at TED though challenges that whole theory though and makes us all think again about algorithms and how sites like Facebook and Google choose to serve us up content. I won’t ruin the video by telling you what he says but if you work in social media, the news industry or are just interested in the web then this is a must watch video. This is by far the smartest thinking I have seen when it comes to this subject and he should be admired for getting us all thinking like this in a video that is only 9 minutes long. Notice the distinguished (Only serious heavy hitters are allowed in to the TED conference) guests giving him a standing ovation.

The speaker is Eli Pariser,’s Board President, a co-founder of, and the author of The Filter Bubble.

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