Google Takes the Extra Step

Google recently announced its new feature, “News For You.”  The premise is to personalize what news the consumer would be most interested in based on their news-related searches. Truthfully, I already thought Google was doing this until I started reading some articles online.

“We found in testing that more users clicked on more stories when we added this automatic personalization, sending more traffic to publishers,” Google software engineer Lucian Cionca said. This makes sense. It seems to be a win/win. Both the consumers and publishers seem happy.

I’m sure others will argue that Google is using our personal information to market towards us. Well, unfortunately, consumers already live in a world where this takes place. The frequent example is Facebook: the site uses our information to display ads on the sidebar based on what Facebook thinks we will click on.

I’m still on the fence about the whole “internet-storing-our-information” thing. On one hand, it is somewhat invasive, and it is the market using our personal information to gain profits. On the other hand, are we really being harmed by personalized ads and articles? We are getting to view content and possibly purchase items we would normally be interested in. Can a world exist where both the consumer and marketer both end up happy with no harm done? I’d like to believe so, but there is still that nagging, cynical feeling that the big bad corporations are out to rob us blind with our personal preferences. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.

One final qualm I have with this is, will the consumer miss out on information that does not fit within their designated interests? Given that the news will adapt to personalized interests, is there room to become more well-rounded? Expand one’s horizons? I feel that “News for You,” can potentially stifle one’s ability to expand culturally, but alas, I see no way of stopping this.

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