The Great Algorithmic Dystopia
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TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and a “Propaganda” (yes, I’ve decided that ought to be the plural) of other social platforms promised a revolution in our ability to connect and share with each other. To a great extent, they delivered on that promise. However, a crucial element of their design, algorithmic content curation, has increasingly come under scrutiny. Critics argue that instead of enhancing our online experience, algorithms have exacerbated divisiveness, misinformation, and mental health problems. The question arises: Is algorithmic social media a failed experiment?
The initial vision of social media was to connect people, allow them to share experiences and ideas, and foster a sense of global community. The advent of algorithmic curation, however, dramatically altered this landscape. Algorithms based on machine learning and artificial intelligence were designed to personalize content for users, ostensibly to improve the user experience. They analyze patterns in a user’s behavior and preferences, then curate a feed that would, in theory, match their interests.
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