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Decoding the Online World: How Algorithms Shape What You See and Believe

Posted June 21, 2023

Have you ever wondered why the internet seems to show you exactly what you're interested in? Well, behind the scenes, there are powerful algorithms at work that shape our online experiences. These algorithms are like digital assistants, deciding what information we see, what news we read, and even what products we discover. They make the internet more personalized and convenient, but they also have a big impact on how we think and what we believe.

In the past, the internet was a wild place where you could stumble upon all sorts of information. But now, algorithms act as filters, tailoring the content to match our preferences. They want to keep us engaged and coming back for more. However, these algorithms can also create bubbles around us, where we only see things that confirm our existing beliefs. This can lead to misunderstandings and even spread false information.

The Conversation recently published an article looking at what algorithms actually do, and we gained much insight from the piece as big users of the internet. In this blog post, we’ll explore how our actions, like liking and sharing, influence what we see. We'll also look at the dangers of misleading headlines and the need for a diverse range of perspectives. Plus, we'll discuss why it's important for the companies behind these algorithms to be more transparent about how they work.

Algorithms Shape What You See

It’s established knowledge – algorithms now act as a huge internet filter. The way information is shown to you on platforms like Google or social media is controlled by algorithms. These algorithms decide what content is relevant and gets attention. Sometimes, they can create "echo chambers" where you only see things that agree with your existing views.

Your Actions Matter

When you interact with content by liking, sharing, or commenting, algorithms take notice. They prioritize content based on how people engage with it. So, the more you interact with something, the more attention it gets.

Be Careful with Headlines

Sometimes, misleading or catchy headlines make you believe something is true, even if the content doesn't support it. It's important to read beyond the headlines and make sure the information is reliable.

We Need Diverse Perspectives

It's crucial to have different algorithms and ways of deciding what content is important. This ensures that you get exposed to a variety of opinions and sources, rather than just seeing what you already agree with.

Imagine a world where you only ever hear the same opinions and ideas, never being exposed to alternative viewpoints. It would limit your understanding, hinder critical thinking, and reinforce existing biases. That's where the significance of having different algorithms and diverse ways of determining content importance comes into play.

When algorithms prioritize content solely based on what aligns with your preferences or previous interactions, it creates a filter bubble. This bubble shields you from differing perspectives and limits your exposure to a narrow range of information. Over time, this can lead to an echo chamber, where your beliefs are constantly reinforced, and alternative viewpoints are suppressed.

Having a variety of algorithms and diverse methods of content assessment helps break this echo chamber effect. It ensures that you encounter a broader spectrum of opinions, ideas, and sources. By exposing you to contrasting viewpoints, these diverse algorithms encourage critical thinking, foster open-mindedness, and promote a more inclusive digital discourse.

Transparency and Research Matter

It's important for platforms to be open about how their algorithms work. This allows researchers to study and understand their impact better. By promoting transparency, we can build trust and ensure that the algorithms are fair and unbiased.

Stay Informed and Think Critically

In summary, our big take is that having different algorithms and varied approaches to determining content importance is crucial to ensure a more comprehensive and inclusive online experience. It helps break filter bubbles, encourages critical thinking, and fosters a diverse range of opinions and sources. By embracing algorithmic diversity, we can promote a more vibrant and informed digital discourse.

As you navigate online spaces, remember: be cautious of catchy headlines, support diverse perspectives, and encourage platforms to be transparent. Stay informed, think critically, and make sure to question the information you come across.



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