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.
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.