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The Algorithmic Spiral of Silence

A cou­ple of major plat­forms like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube, have become in many places around the world a de fac­to pub­lic sphere. Especially in coun­tries that have less than free Internet, less than free mass media. And these coun­tries have tran­si­tioned from a very con­trolled pub­lic sphere to a commercially-run one like Facebook.

Can an Algorithm Be Agonistic? Ten Scenes about Living in Calculated Publics

This is why it mat­ters whether algo­rithms can be ago­nist, giv­en their roles in gov­er­nance. When the log­ic of algo­rithms is under­stood as auto­crat­ic, we’re going to feel pow­er­less and pan­icked because we can’t pos­si­bly inter­vene. If we assume that they’re delib­er­ate­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic, we’ll assume an Internet of equal agents, ratio­nal debate, and emerg­ing con­sen­sus posi­tions, which prob­a­bly doesn’t sound like the Internet that many of us actu­al­ly recognize.

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