The Influence of Algorithms on Social Networks

Jul 19, 2023 | Blog

Discover how algorithms shape social networks, their content boosting criteria, and the risks and benefits associated with them. 
Social media has become an integral part of our lives, with billions of people around the world sharing, interacting and consuming content on these platforms daily. Behind this vast amount of information and interactions, algorithms play a crucial role.  

Today we're going to explore their influence on social media, how they work and the criteria by which some content is promoted more than others. Additionally, we will analyze the risks and benefits associated with using these actions. 

How algorithms work on social media

Complexes sets of instructions designed to process large amounts of data and make decisions about what to display to users, It isThey are responsible for filtering, classifying and personalizing the content that appears in our feeds. While the exact details are generally kept private by the platforms, normally consider you factors such as: 

  • Relevance 

Algorithms try to understand each user's interests and preferences by analyzing their past behavior, interactions, likes and shares. Based on this information, they prioritize the content they consider most compatible with the individual profile of each one. 

  • Engagement  

They also take into account the engagement generated by the content, such as the number of likes, comments and shares. Content that generates more interactions tends to be boosted, as it indicates that it is popular and of interest to users. 

  • Time 

The order in which content is presented in our feeds is also influenced by time. Newer posts usually take priority, ensuring users see the most up-to-date content. 

Criteria for boosting content 

In social networks, several criteria are considered when deciding which content should be more driven organically, among them are:  

  • User interest 

Based on the history of interactions, platforms try to identify the topics, types of content and profiles that most interest each user. This way, the algorithm can present similar content that is likely to generate engagement. 

  • Relationships and connections 

Interactions between users who have connections, such as friends, family or co-workers, are valued. Content shared by people with whom we have a closer relationship is more likely to appear in our feeds.

  • Authenticity and quality 

Although details are hidden, platforms tend to favor high-quality, authentic content. This includes accurate information, trusted sources, and content that follows community guidelines. 

Risks associated with algorithms on social media 

Although they have advantages, especially in the segmentation of content delivered to users, there are also risks to be considered: 

  • Filter Bubbles 

Our feeds are personalized to our interests, which can create filter bubbles. This means we are exposed to a limited set of perspectives, which can reinforce our existing beliefs and turn us away from divergent information and views.
 

  • Misinformation 

Inaccuracy in identifying the origin of some accurate content and misinformation can lead to the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, as the algorithm may prioritize engagement over the veracity or quality of the content.

  • Addiction and mental health 

The intention is to keep users engaged and spending more time on the platforms. This can lead to social media addiction and negatively impact some people's mental health. 

Benefits of algorithms on social media 

Despite the risks, there are also significant benefits: 

  • Customization 

Users receive content relevant to their specific interests, making the social media experience more personalized and enjoyable. 

  • Content discovery 

Users are encouraged to discover new content, its creators, and perspectives that might otherwise go unnoticed in an unfiltered stream.

  • Efficiency and convenience 

With billions of posts being made daily, content is filtered and classified so that users are not overwhelmed by an overwhelming amount of information. 

Conclusion 

Algorithms play a significant role on social media, shaping the content we consume and the experiences we have on these platforms. They aim to personalize and optimize the user experience, prioritizing relevant and engaging content. However, it is important to be aware of the associated risks, such as filter bubbles and the spread of misinformation. Finding a balance between personalization and diversity is an ongoing challenge that platforms and users must address to ensure a healthy and informed online environment.

 

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