Is the Personalized Web Hurting Democracy?
May 03, 2012
We often hear that the Internet is enhancing the power of consumers, and certainly the ability to band together and take action against rip-offs or engage in various kinds of boycotts suggests that this is so. But, media expert Joseph Turow argues in his new book, The Daily You, something else is going on behind the scenes. The customized media environment created by our use of personal web browsers, and the secretive uses of cookies and web beacons, are creating a world of greatly reduced consumer power. As the saying goes, if a site is free, then you are the product. Not only ads and discounts but even news and entertainment are being customized by powerful media agencies on the basis of data we don’t know they are collecting and individualized profiles we don’t know we have. How do you know if you have been identified as a “target” or “waste” or placed in one of the industry’s finer-grained marketing niches? How does this change your experience of the web? What are these forces doing to the media--are they dumbing it down to lower denominators in search of more traffic and ad volume? On this PD+ call, we'll ask, what is the online advertising business doing to democracy?
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