May 19 2011
In the Spiegel Online article from March 3rd, 2011 author Konrad Lischka talks about Facebook, Twitter and Co’s algorithms to filter all displayed content. So it could happen that posts from friends will never be shown for you on Facebook as the algorithm identifies these posts as irrelevant. Or worse, friends that have been added will disappear as will their posts. Users of social platforms often only realize the fact that algorithms decide what they see after months and therefore they feel patronized and not informed.
The algorithm determines from previously visits to profiles and pages, the number of comments a user creates, user’s visits to profiles/pages etc. how relevant a post is. Simply said, people that like cats will no longer see photos of dogs but are rather presented with pictures and posts from other cat-lovers. Doesn’t sound that bad, but it might become a problem when people use social platforms more and more as their primary sources to get news and opinions. Irrelevant or contrary opinions are simply not displayed and that can create a wrong picture of the world.
Eli Pariser, former Executive Director of MoveOn.org, and the organization’s current Board President, talks about a world where we only see things on the Web of which algorithms have decided that we must see these things – but we will not see what we should see. The article’s author raises another problem: It may seem plausible that people in a specific environment hold back with their opinions. If that happens we lack a different viewpoint – and the digital world seems much more unanimous than it truly is.