From “I thought my Instagram was all mine, until the algorithm proved me wrong,” by Nellie Bowles in the Guardian (3/17/16), about Instagram’s switch to an algorithm-based personal feed:
â€œYou create this identity for yourself, like your little secret life that interacts with other secret lives, and if that gets manipulated, it can feel disorienting,â€ said Lacey Noonan, a psychotherapist as Well Counseling in the heart of San Franciscoâ€™s tech-centric Potrero Hill. â€œIt happens all the timeâ€…
As I mould myself into these platforms, I claw out a sense of control over what is mine â€“ my profile, my feed. Instagram and Twitter encouraged this sense of ownership and agency. The move toward an algorithm that the company curates is a reminder of both whoâ€™s in charge and just how much of myself Iâ€™ve given to them. My apps have become so blended into my life, to skew one toward the machine is to skew them both.
Internet historian and University of Michigan professor Chuck Severance said it was â€œniceâ€ I ever thought I had ownership of something like my Twitter account. Severance teaches a popular class online called Internet History, Technology, and Security and goes by @DrChuck to his 14,000 Twitter followers.
â€œWhen a company makes your feed algorithmic, itâ€™s the moment that youâ€™re being squeezed as an asset,â€ Severance said. â€œIn some way itâ€™s worse than a loss of agency. Itâ€™s them reminding you that youâ€™re not the owner, youâ€™re the product. You do know that, right?â€