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The Instagram Algorithm: Need For Nuance

By O.T. Daalhuizen


After the Facebook take-over, Instagram has grown bigger than ever before. Following the path Facebook took, Instagram introduced its algorithm which calculates what users like to see on their feed. This shift from chronological content to algorithmically curated content caught a lot of attention, because it is said to be shaping user perception and agencies. On the other hand, algorithms are approached as formal beings of reason, having no capabilities on their own. To understand the upcoming algorithm and situate it within the debate surrounding algorithms and their penetration into everyday lives, a multi-layered method is used. The combination of a platform analysis, an affordance analysis and a comparative analysis with the big brother platform Facebook will help understand the effect this shift has on user agency. This paper focuses on creating a nuance within the debate on social software like algorithms penetrating daily lives in society as a whole. The central argument is that although the algorithms affect user agency, users also affect algorithms, making their critique on the algorithm partially based on their own Instagram usage

Topics: Instagram, Facebook, Algorithm, user agency, affordance, curation, nuance
Year: 2016
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