They have seen the future of the Internet, and it is dark

There are even dangers from the personalization of content: That customization, a way of limiting information overload, was also seen as a threat to healthy serendipity in what we read, watch and think about.

“We asked about the threats and opportunities to free content on the Internet, and we got all these elaborate answers,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project and a co-author of the report. Compared with the past, he said, “there is a more palpable sense of dread” about what may happen to life online.

This troubling view emerged when the group, many of whose members were initially positive about the future, was asked by Pew to describe “the most serious threats to the most effective accessing and sharing and content on the Internet.” It may not be surprising, then, that the word “threat” appears 57 times in the report, while “hope” or variants show up just 12 times. “Corporate” and “corporation” appear 31 times, only once in a positive sense.