The Annoyances of the Web Trying to Personalize You
Posted on January 17, 2013 10:30 AM by Rob Williams
As I discussed yesterday, the Internet can be a great place for a ton of reasons. Online, things that once would have seemed impossible can be proven to us within seconds. That said, with the good comes the bad – and if there’s a perfect area to look for the bad (as in annoyances), it’s social networks.
In a story posted to Engadget by Joshua Fruhlinger, points are raised about the annoyances that come about when social networks try to recommend us something. In gist, if our connected friends like something, then it’s a good bet that I’ll like it, too. Every day, Facebook piles on ads that don’t even look like ads – <Your Friend> likes <Some Product>. As a real example, one of my best friends “liked” Capital One on Facebook, so I saw a recommendation. In reality, my rate of interest in Capital One is actually quite low, so what good did it do recommending it to me? There’s also the fact that I doubt he “liked” it at all, but that’s another story in itself.
Josh sums the problem up well: “I get it. Maybe my best friend and I are best friends because we share common interests. We both think Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is a killer movie, so when he mentions on Facebook that he loved Prometheus, when I search for “movies my friends like,” it should weigh that one pretty heavily. But here’s the thing — I already asked him, and the chances that I’m going to be so desperate for a social recommendation that I’ll turn to my social networks for something to do is, at least in my case, slim to none.“
Personally, I find Facebook and YouTube to be the worst offenders here. On YouTube, if I subscribe to someone’s channel, it results in their favorites being leaked into my main feed. Again, just because I like someone who posts game reviews doesn’t mean I want to see their favorite music video. In the event I do want to be recommended anything, I’ll just use a dedicated service which will no doubt give me a better experience – such as Last.fm for music. Heck, I’d quicker Google something.
What are your thoughts? Are you tired of “recommendations” appearing in your face all the time?