Personalised News

here’s a story reported quite extensively over the last few days about Facebook:

Facebook Story from NDTV Gadget – Personalised Newspaper

On the face of it, this might look like quite an innocent innovation, a tweak in a social networking website as it endeavours to push itself in to a more significant position in people’s lives. However, as i read it i found one aspect potentially disturbing. If every one of us is increasingly only exposed to ‘news’ that reinforces and sits comfortably with our existing prejudices, does this represent a genuine danger for the world?

Arguably, there has been a general drift in this direction, but to me this seems like a big lurch in a risky direction. For many years, different newspapers and even to some extent TV news channels sought to make their offerings more appealing to a particular market segment. Some newspapers took very conscious and deliberate strong political stances and made no apologies. However, there was still an innate ‘impartial’ vein that ran through the profession of journalism that ensured that good media carried some degree of balance.

I find the idea that a pervasive media like Facebook could feed people a narrowly defined set of views that equate with (and even reinforce) prejudices, bigotry or myopic perspectives is hardly the way towards a broad minded, informed, thinking populace. I fear that this would also leave some parts of society more prone to manipulation, especially for political ends.

Ultimately, I know that it does me good to be exposed to a broad array of views and opinions, both those that come from ‘people like me’ and those that come from people with whom i may disagree vehemently.


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