Search Engines, Social Media and Privacy

Search Engines, Social Media and Privacy

Its been cool and damp on Cape Cod the last few days so I thought I would take the opportunity to work on material for a workshop, Web Literacy: Researching the Web for a Different Perspective, I am facilitating in July. There is a section of the workshop that covers how search engines work. This was pretty straightforward a few years back, before social media and behavioral advertising became main stream. At a basic level search engines ranked material on the number of other web pages that linked to it.  A page rankings could be manipulated by having your page linked to other pages.  Social media changed things, as well as, new marketing and monetization strategies of search engines and social media sights.  It is now about marketing and social popularity these days and not content accuracy and relevancy.

I have become quite distracted by material discussing these changes and how they influence what we read, buy and how we connect. We use Google, facebook, Amazon, twitter, and a host of other services.  These companies collect your data and use it to target advertising, rank websites and sell the data. “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” (attributed to blue_beetle at Metafilter). This brings up a slew of issues such a privacy and from a research perspective if you only see things related to previous searches how to you find new information yet alone different points of view.

As users of these companies and the internet in general, we need to be aware how are our data are used. We may not leave facebook, or avoid using google but ignorance is not always bliss. Below are links to some of the material that has me thinking and kept me distracted.  They are worth considering.

Things to Consider

4 thoughts on “Search Engines, Social Media and Privacy

  1. Information from this blog is very helpful and important to know especially because many educational institutions are requiring students to use the mentioned search engines and social media forms as part of the learning process. I can certainly see how a learner’s privacy can be jeopardized, despite the usefulness of these great technological resources.


  2. Beth, I agree with you about the lack of privacy on social media sites. I like and agree with your comment that if “you are not paying for the item then you are the product being sold”. This calls for some serious data mining to protect our privacy and information

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