Yahoo’s Murder Feed

My new article in the Atlantic is about how Yahoo’s algorithm decided I liked child murder, and what that says about the personalization of online experience:

Opponents of the practice fear that filter bubbles prevent users from experiencing viewpoints other than their own. They strip online worlds of their serendipity, imprisoning users in an informational comfort zone. But I had the opposite experience: child murder was my presumed interest. Yahoo News had become my own personal Hunger Games, making me a spectator to violence I would never voluntarily seek out. 

Filter bubbles are usually criticized on material or political grounds: They reinforce pre-existing tastes, manipulate consumers into buying products, and limit knowledge of opposing views. But what if the filter is wrong? What if it’s not a true reflection, but a false mirror — one that does not respond to fears and prejudices, but creates them?

Read the full article here.

Update: My article criticizing Yahoo News has been republished by Yahoo News.

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