Why You Should Be Worried About Algorithmic Gatekeeping

The birth of the Internet was perhaps the next evolutionary step for mankind. Information at the click of a mouse: the good, the bad, the ugly, but we took it in strides and welcomed the ability to transmit information at the speed of light. Misuse of the Internet resulted in government interference, but we still have arms outstretched towards it with hopes it will continue to provide the information we require from it without interruption. While net neutrality threatens to pass to torch to our government to regulate ISPs, I believe there is a considerably-larger threat afoot.

Algorithmic gatekeeping, a term coined by Eli Pariser in a still-popular TEDTalk, removes the premise that made the Internet so attractive in the first place. The Internet challenges its patrons to digest information that is unpleasant, informative, different, and respective of other points of view, but instead, we are subjected to only what is deemed relevant by search engines like Google and social media platforms like FaceBook. The sparkling appeal of the Internet vanishes with algorithmic gatekeepers because it clutters our news feeds and search results with items that it assumes we want to see and not what we actually need to see. Google and FaceBook do this to each of us unknowingly, and we indulge in the information because we assume it is the only thing present for us to consume. Commercial interests distort perceptions and manipulate the cyberspace. FaceBook filters out the conflicting viewpoints of others once the algorithm determines that we interact with that content infrequently.

What we’re left with is a paradigm shift in the way we seek information on the Internet and how it is broadcasted to us. The danger exists when we become stagnant in our perspectives of the world and become unable to be presented with information that challenges our beliefs.