I’m on a team with Ariel Duncan and Paul Roberts, and for our graduate “thesis” project, we chose to focus on algorithms and their impact on culture. We landed on algorithms – and the technologies that use them – because of the increasing roles that they play in shaping daily human life.
With algorithms playing a distinct role in shaping the 2016 election, we felt that it was timely to understand their often opaque internal mechanisms and hidden biases. Part of our mission is to raise awareness around the cultural, social, and political impact of algorithms and empower people to explore how they shape and are shaped by technologies that use algorithms.
The 2016 election revealed to many people that their perspective of the world have been influenced by the echo chamber effects of the “news” presented to them in social media. This echo chamber has, in part, been reinforced by Facebook and other social media platforms decisions to prioritize information that spreads affirmation. (1) Although Facebook is not the only platform contributing to the echo-chamber effects, its reach, size, and disproportionate power to shape our lives makes it notable.