Note — Feb 20, 2022

Because Your Algorithm Says So

A lot of what I share regarding algorithms is from the technical or ethical side, this one at The Cut touches on that but is taken from the angle of users’ attachment to the apps, and the psychological implications of that. Some of the quotes are a bit, I wouldn’t say disturbing, but it’s getting there. The main takeaway for me is: when might we get algos that aren’t from advertising-based companies, not made for some form of (or exploitable as) surveillance, and might even operate locally to our devices?

As you start watching and liking posts, you go deeper into a niche you’ve co-created with the platform’s famous algorithm. Betancourt knows it sounds intense, but she feels like her FYP truly understands her inside and out: “I feel like it’s really a reflection of my subconscious thoughts; even things I never say out loud, it will know. […]

“My For You Page is literally a culmination of everything that I am,” she says: a “perfect” reflection of her liberal politics and satirical sense of humor, but also of more personal things like her attachment style and trauma. It’s not perfect, of course. No matter the platform, algorithms will never have the full picture of who we are. […]

To Sullivan Facknitz, a 30-year-old grad student based out of Vancouver, being perceived by the algorithm felt the same as being perceived by any institution with power — like, for instance, a university.

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