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May 02, 2013

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Arthur Weiss

These are interesting findings, and the implications are also worrying - for knowledge overall.

Google & Bing filter results based on what they know about users (the infamous filter bubble) - giving them results listings linked to their own predilections. However at least these results still bear some resemblance to what is out there and aren't based totally on what close contacts think and believe.

If people start depending on Facebook friends, and fail to do real information searching, then results are going to become even more skewed towards what an individual already thinks and believes. It'll mean that if you think that 911 was a Washington hoax, and that man never landed on the moon, that any searches you do are likely to reinforce such beliefs.

It makes the job of a knowledge specialist even harder as they need to be able to show truth rather than bias - and convince users of the truth. It's not just using the tools (whether Flikr, Pinterest or whatever). It's understanding the tool limitations and when they won't give honest results.

We've gone well beyond the days when you'd go to a book to look something up. Now it's not even see what google says. It's see what your crowd of friends think. The trouble is that if my crowd of friends are all racist bigots, then that's what I'll see.

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