A few years ago I worked with a start up that was launching a web browser that was designed to help researchers get better results on internet searches. In our initial discussions we talked about how one of the barriers that the business faced was competing against Google. Many people now just default to Google like it is the only search engine option. Depending on the source between 68-75% of all searches are done on Google. Yahoo is second with about 8% of searches.
So how does Google determine which results you see? Their explanation is here. Google uses over 200 factors that determine what you get. It is highly sophisticated and getting more so every day. The information you are getting is selected for you based on your location, your previous search history, page rankings and much more. You know that if you type in a word like, "Water" you willl get very different results than if I search the same word. But individually you may be just getting more of the same as what you previously looked at is factored into your results. Your results will fit your current reality but maybe not what you aspire to be.
This weekend in Mitch Joel's weekly newsletter, "Six Links Worthy of Your Attention", there was a link to a YouTube video about Pinterest. I encourage you to spend a few minutes watching it. It's surprising how quickly Pinterest determines what you are getting in your feed. It is frightening to think about how all of our search results can influence what we see, and possibly what we begin to consider as normal and/or believable. We then begin to take actions and make choices based on what we are getting fed to us.
Most of us just blindly consume social media without thinking too much about the fact that the results we get are selected for us. That goes for all of your social media feeds.
The truth is you are far more complex than the analytics and algorithms being used to target content to you. You don't need to be paranoid but you do need to be aware. You want to educate yourself so you can use different browsers and get different results. You don't want to get stuck in a rut.