Is The Algorithm The New Gatekeeper Of Content?

Is The Algorithm The New Gatekeeper Of Content?
SHARE
THIS


What best describes you?

Carat Sydney’s Head of Digital, Fiona Harrop, examines the flip side to our ever-increasing levels of content personalisation, and the role it has to play in in ‘attitude isolation’.

The increased personalisation of content on the internet and our ability to harness this is becoming the holy grail of marketing.  As marketers, this personalisation has a huge number of benefits, driving more effective and efficient communications.

However there is another side to this personalisation that we have a duty as marketers to think about. The internet is perceived as an open democratic source of information, an enabler to diversity.  However, the reality is not as idealistic, as the use of algorithms by multiple platforms, means we are increasingly being steered towards topics that reflect our own ideologies.

This leaves a gap as we then aren’t being exposed to points of view that veer away from our own.  In marketing, we use this personalised approach to steer people towards products that we know they will either like or believe they will like due to life stage, demographic, behaviour and geographic location.

A number of terms have been coined for this personalisation, including ‘Social media bubble’, ‘filter bubble’ and ‘echo chamber’.

The term ‘echo chamber’ has been used by researchers from Boston University, describing it as “like-minded people who share controversial theories, biased views, and selective news.” The information is often repeated back and ends up being believed as fact.  The term is also now being applied in the social media space.

Facebook is one such ‘echo chamber’ that 1.13 billion (11 million daily AU) people peruse each day.  The Facebook algorithm means that we are seeing news in our feeds and views from people we follow, limiting our exposure to those with potentially similar view points.

One experience I had of this was with Brexit, where the majority of content in my news feed and opinion from people I followed on Twitter were all ‘vote remain’.  If my reading had been limited to social media platforms I would have been given a false perception that this was the majority viewpoint for the vote.  This was obviously far from the case with the final vote being to leave.

This insular exchange of information consumption and shared views is leading to ‘attitude polarisation’.  Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor has been studying these affects and highlighting how this narrow view of information in the social space is leading to polarisation of opinion.

Being around people with a similar attitude or within the social space where we are only reading similar opinions will just make that opinion more valid in your mindset.

Taking this a step further, could it be influencing people to become even more extreme in their views on a particular issue?

Is it easier to become more radicalised?

Polarisation has always been present but is new media speeding up the way this information is spread?

Looking at this from a political standpoint, Facebook likes and shares are what voters are now using to communicate their political views. These views are then reinforced as content skews towards these behaviors.

Removing the opportunity for them to be exposed to differing opinion and information, instead they continue to be served information backing their own beliefs.

In Jan 2016, 44 per cent of US adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election from a social media channel, outpacing both local and national print newspapers.  Following these candidates gave a view of the campaign through a narrow window.

CNN tagged Donald Trump as the first ‘social media president’.  He strategically gained traction through social media and syndicated news networks like Breitbart and Infowars rather than trying to gain ground with the media elite; a method now being heavily reviewed by politicians.

Editors were the original gatekeepers of content, however technology is now taking control in a more effective way.  If algorithms continue to curate in this way, our society is not only at risk of bias to particular views, and points of difference, but this continued personalisation of media is detrimental to diversity of thought.

We have a responsibility to ensure this evolves, so we get a balanced diet of content and information, not reinforcement of our own beliefs, and our social circle’s opinion and perspective.  As more channels become personalised we need to address this before we reach the tipping point of a homogenous society.

As Eli Pariser summarised “if algorithms are going to curate the world for us, then… we need to make sure that they also show us things that are uncomfortable or challenging or important”.

We have a stake in the way this plays out and have the ability to take control back from the new gatekeeper of diversity of thought.  We can actively seek other views and opinions by clicking on links that share diverse opinions, break out and follow new people in the social sphere and open up our news feeds to a wider array of topics, don’t limit yourself.

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

The Advertising ID Consortium Welcomes New Platform Partners
  • Advertising

The Advertising ID Consortium Welcomes New Platform Partners

The Advertising ID Consortium – the open identity solution for the digital advertising ecosystem – has announced new platform partners. Since the Consortium’s announcement in May 2017, the founding members have established a governance framework and product specification that includes an open and standardised cookie and accessible people-based identifiers, delivered in a secure, privacy conscious […]

Marketing Melodies Partners With Spotify-Backed Soundtrack Your Brand
  • Marketing

Marketing Melodies Partners With Spotify-Backed Soundtrack Your Brand

Australian in-store music provider Marketing Melodies has announced an exclusive reseller agreement with Spotify-backed Soundtrack Your Brand for the Australia and New Zealand markets. Founded in Sweden in 2013, Soundtrack Your Brand was developed to kill bad background music. Its flagship solution, Soundtrack Business, is a music streaming platform licensed for commercial and public spaces. The […]

Social Garden Becomes First Bronze Snapchat Certified Partner In Australia
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Social Garden Becomes First Bronze Snapchat Certified Partner In Australia

Customer acquisition firm Social Garden has become the first business in Australia to achieve Bronze status on Snapchat. Among the new benefits Social Garden will receive as a result of its Bronze status is access to beta versions of Snapchat data tools, such as the Snapchat Conversion Pixel, as well as being among the first […]

Hypetap Appoints Nuffnang’s Chris Morfis As GM
  • Marketing

Hypetap Appoints Nuffnang’s Chris Morfis As GM

Influencer marketing player Hypetap has made its second senior hire in less than a month, appointing Chris Morfis as the company’s general manager. Joining from influencer marketing provider Nuffnang Australia, Morfis will guide Hypetap’s growing team, providing strategic direction to accelerate the company’s growth, as well as leading operations and managing relationships with key partners. Morfis’ appointment will […]

On Air sign in a studio broadcasting via radio, podcast or wireless transmission.
  • Media

ARN Announces Departure Of Content Director & Radio Veteran

Australian Radio Network (ARN) has announced that Charlie Fox, content Director for WSFM and The Edge, and WSFM morning announcer Ron E Sparks, have departed. Fox has been with ARN since 2005, and Sparks joined WSFM in 2002. ARN national content director Duncan Campbell said the departure of Fox and Sparks are part of the […]

OMD Announces New MD For Melbourne
  • Media

OMD Announces New MD For Melbourne

OMD unveils new Melbourne MD, and it certainly wasn't among any of B&T's picks. Not that we were picking, mind you.

Sydney Festival Chooses Brightcove To Enhance Online Video Content
  • Media

Sydney Festival Chooses Brightcove To Enhance Online Video Content

Video cloud service Brightcove has announced that Sydney Festival has selected the platform to improve its user experience through online video content. Brightcove will do so by removing third-party branding and pre-roll ads, as well as adding autoplay functionality, ahead of the event in January. Leveraging the Brightcove video platform to host and publish video […]

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?
  • Opinion

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?

Remember the old Palmolive soap ad that asked, "Don't wait to be told"? This is sort of similar, albeit sans any suds.

Opinion

by Peter Harris

Peter Harris
Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban
  • Campaigns

Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban

We have a strident anti-pornography policy at B&T. Earphones must be worn at all times and strictly no little people.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful

Health and wellbeing company Nature’s Way is celebrating the achievements of kids in a series of relatable and entertaining online videos that tug at the heart strings of parents. Instead of using actors to tell the brand story of Nature’s Way’s Kids Smart supplement range, Storyful has helped Wavemaker to license user-generated content clips of […]

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account
  • Marketing

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account

Electronics and whitegoods specialist Hisense has announced it has appointed DEC PR to lead its strategic communications remit in the local market, following a competitive tender process. DEC PR will work to support its brand building activities and managing corporate communications. The agency’s work will integrate closely with Hisense’s other marketing partners. Andre Iannuzzi, marketing […]