Oh this is a Bad Idea. From theodp on Slashdot:
Microsoft Patent Hints At Search Results Tailored To User’s Mood, Intelligence
“A newly surfaced Microsoft patent application, reports GeekWire, describes a ‘user-following engine’ that analyzes your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to deduce your mood, interests, and even your smarts. The system would then automatically adjust the search experience and results to better match those characteristics, explains Microsoft, such as changing the background color of the search interface to suit your mood, or bringing back only those search results that won’t strain your feeble brain. From the patent application: ‘In addition to skewing the search results to the user’s inferred interests, the user-following engine may further tailor the search results to a user’s comprehension level. For example, an intelligent processing module may be directed to discerning the sophistication and education level of the posts of a user. Based on that inference, the customization engine may vary the sophistication level of the customized search result.'”
Human cognition already has built in tendencies to see what we want to see, to confirm our biases, to select our facts to suit our purposes (just look at climate change deniers, for example). Certain personality types seem to be particularly prone to constructing their own reality in this way. And now it seems we’re going to take the most powerful aggregate of data ever assembled by humanity and bend it to our biases. Close the self-reinforcing loop of information filtering even tighter? Further Balkanise debate into factions that share no common ground?
No, sorry, I know there’s no way of stopping it. But this is the wrong kind of “progress”.