Manipulated by the Internet

People often say that the internet is a liberating media. I find this assesment a little naive. Yes, it offers opinions and content far from the stuff published by the mainstream media, but it also seeks to manipulate its audience, like any other media. The main difference with the internet is that it offers more choice of opinions and allows people who search hard enough to find content that is not put out by big corporate interests.

However, Google is a big corporation and it seems no accident that its search engine seems to favor other big corporations such as Amazon.com over smaller businesses. It is also noticeable that in the field of travel that a few website entities such as Agoda, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and Booking.com seem to be near the top for nearly any search you care to make for holiday destinations. Unless people are aware of this they tend to think that the choices provided by these websites are the only choices available when it comes to booking a hotel room, hiring a car or buying an airplane ticket.

With travel the web is manipulating people into thinking that supposed luxury hotels offering Jacuzzis, room service and satellite TV are offering the best holiday experiences. In places like Thong Nai Pan in Thailand this not always the case. The accommodation in expensive hotels is tightly grouped. The satellite TV often has only a couple of channels in English and the resort restaurant charges more than a restaurant back in Europe. The major players on the internet are not telling travel consumers about other accommodation options like private villa rental in Thong Nai Pan. This often offers real privacy, facilites to cook and a better opportunity to experience the true natural beauty of the area.

The mission to sell what can be expolited for a commission is making many websites no better than travel agents and is making the internet as monolithic as the mainstream media. We need to educate people on how to use Google to allow for these biases on the internet.

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