Social media algorithms. The concept of them is so unpopular that some alternative social platforms actually trade on the fact that they (supposedly) don’t have them. But in this post I just might change the detractors’ minds. I’ll explore the reality of algorithms, explode some of the myths that surround them, and find out whether they really do us a favour or a disservice.
WHAT IS AN ALGORITHM OR ALGO?
In the context of social media, an algorithm – algo for short – is simply a sorting mechanism. A system of priority for the display of content or profiles.
The most basic social media algorithm is a reverse chronological display. That’s newest posts always at the top of the timeline, with no filtering – i.e. nothing removed. Despite the order being very simple and basic, this is still an algorithm. And by default, any social app you can find on an app store will filter out some sensitive matter. They won’t be accepted by the app stores if they don’t. So essentially, all social networks with timelines use some type of algorithm – even those who claim not to. You can read some more network-specific details in Finding The Best Alternative Social Media Platform.
Most social platforms, however, additionally manipulate their basic, reverse chronological timeline. They’ll filter out more than they’re required to filter out by the app stores – most often to avoid endless repetition and valueless spam. Then they’ll start to interfere with the chronological order, so that popular or more personally-relevant posts are placed at the top of the timeline, even when they’re not the most recent. Continue reading What Are Social Media Algorithms and Are They Really So Bad?