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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Google Alerts Rejiggered to Inundate You With Crap

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Google Alert in your inbox!
  • Google Alert in your inbox!

The Internet, it turns out, is a hell of a way to disseminate information. Or, as the case may be, to obscure it. 

Your humble narrator, like other people with a vested interest in this city of ours, subscribes to a Google Alert for information about San Francisco. In the past this has proven to be a font of knowledge about our town -- or  an accident-prone submarine, a befouled river abutting an Arizona RV Park, or the self-proclaimed Most Opulent Plantation on the Mississippi River (a source of pride, no doubt, for its former labor force). 

In recent weeks, however, Google Alerts have come to resemble The Mighty Mississippi: Impossibly broad and disturbingly muddy. 

Of late, San Francisco-centric Google Alerts include any and all game stories for contests between out-of-town teams or recaps of sporting events held many thousands of miles from here -- so long as they appeared online in a local publication. That's new, but understandable. 

What's less understandable was an Irish-based article regarding the increasingly unhinged Alicia Silverstone -- in which the actress turned professional loon lectured women that tampon use decreases fertility (she may be doing it wrong) -- somehow being included in a San Francisco Google Alert. 

San Francisco has perception problems to spare; we do not require any affiliations with Silverstone to fill out our moonbat dance card. This is unfortunate. 

And it remains unexplained. Our queries to Google were returned by a kindly but vague fellow named Jason Friedenfelds: 

From time to time we update how our system works, and last month a change we made may have increased the content you'll see if you've signed up for "All results" from the web. If you'd prefer less you may want to try the default "Only the best" and see if that's more useful. We appreciate the feedback as we work on improving the experience.

With all due respect, if Google's algorithmic blend of the Colonel's herbs and spices is picking Irish articles about Alicia Silverstone's fulminations regarding eschewing vaccinations and tampons as relevant to San Francisco, why would their "only the best" selections be any more relevant? 

Alas. Our rapidly expanding technological world offers us ever more opportunities to load ourselves down with undesired detritus. 

Which, in Silverstone's case, is not a pretty picture. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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