Social networks are redefining the way people find and share information, they’ve provided a platform for a new wave of applications, and their impact has even spilled over into this year’s revolutions in the Middle East. The operators of these networks make money primarily through ads, wooing advertisers with the prospect of campaigns better targeted than anything competitors like search engines or television can provide.
Consequently, social networks present the first serious challenge to the dominance of Google’s search-based advertising business.
But to provide precisely targeted advertising, they must continue to make the most of the personal information provided by users. In the past, network operators have had a largely free hand in how they used that information, but on a number of occasions they provoked howls of protest by overstepping the mark. Now privacy concerns are becoming the focus of attention from consumer advocates and governments around the world (see “When Private Information Isn’t”).
These concerns will become even more pressing as social networking is integrated with more and more online services, such as personalized search tools that factor in what you and friends like or recommendation engines that suggest which movies to see, restaurants to visit, or news to read. But even as privacy issues linger, it’s likely that before long, not having a profile and some connections on at least one social network will seem as strange as not having an e-mail address or a cell phone.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.