The News… Private vs Tracked.

Using my standard Google Chrome setup, I opened this Huffington Post article:

Here’s a screenshot of what I received. Pay notice to the sidebar and the “HOT ON THE BLOG” areas:

What the news looks like for a digitally tracked 25 year old male.

It’s quite hard to take such a qualified article seriously when the surrounding content is clickbait nonsense… (Sorry Russell Brand…). I’d expect such things from a social news website, but not a newspaper…

The weird thing is that when browsing via Private Browsing Mode (a mode where websites are unable to assimilate your persona from your historical online activity), I then get suggestions that I actually care about:

What the news looks like for a private browsing citizen.

This leaves me puzzling:

  1. Perhaps we all need to be way more concerned than we all are with online tracking and its resultant echo chamber… even for only the sake of acquiring better news article suggestions…
  2. It baffles me that my own online browsing history has concluded to them a persona more interested in frivolous gossip and inconsequential events than humanitarian issues. Does there even exist persona worthy enough to even receive humanitarian issues as their suggestions?
  3. Surely there is an ethical issue here. Shouldn't the companies responsible for assimilating and distributing “news” have a responsibility to better humanity? And surely, wouldn’t that be accomplished through spreading news of humanity, rather than news of gossip?
  4. Perhaps Google’s (and Google Chrome’s) pitch of “We track everything about you to help you get more relevant results faster” isn't all it’s cracked up to be… delivering us worse results in exchange for cataloging our entire browsing activity… it hardly seems like a fair trade on our part. Maybe Google’s pitch is just vapourware, and instead Apple’s pitch of “We protect your data” could actually end up providing us with more relevant results, even if they are achieved inadvertently.

Sigh.