The ethics of algorithms and gatekeeping

The article on ethics of algorithms discussed that algorithms perform a gate-keeping function by deciding what gets attention, what is ignored or censored, and what gets published. As algorithms make ‘subjective’ decisions for us, with us, or about us, they make things worse in terms of accountability or transparency – even Facebook engineers don’t exactly know how the algorithm works.

I found the algorithms’ editorial decision-making resembles some traditional editorial process in many ways because both ‘decide’ what gets shared. But they differ in many ways too because the transparency and visibility differ between these two processes. For example, the result of decision making process in traditional newspapers is frozen in the paper’s page but Facebook’s algorithm editing is dynamic and changes much faster. The ethics of algorithms is nothing new because the ethics of decision making has been debated for so long, but it makes me think more about the impacts and issues raised by the role of algorithms on social media platforms and how I, as a Facebook user, should be more aware of the usefulness and limitations of this function.

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