The Rise of the Social Algorithm

D. Lazer
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1090-1091
June 5, 2015


Humanity is in the  early stages of the rise of social algorithms: programs that size us up,  evaluate what we want, and provide a customized experience. This quiet but  epic paradigm shift is fraught with social and policy implications. The  evolution of Google exemplifies this shift. It began as a simple  deterministic ranking system based on the linkage structure among Web sites -  the model of algorithmic Fordism, where any color was fine as long as it was  black (1). The current Google is a very different product, personalizing  results (2) on the basis of information about past searches and other  contextual information, like location. On page 1130 of this issue, Bakshy et  al. (3) explore whether such personalized curation on Facebook prevents users  from accessing posts presenting conflicting political views.

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