How Media Algorithms Work and How You Can Take Back Control

How Media Algorithms Work and How You Can Take Back Control
How to stop letting the algorithm decide what information you consume and choose what content you want to read.

You may have over 1,000 friends on Facebook, but you tend to see the same friends’ updates and their shares. Sound familiar? Of course, this is because you genuinely like their high quality content and feel that your opinions and interests align. Despite this, sometimes you’d like to have a bit more variety . But social media algorithms work by ‘learning’ from the accounts you interact with frequently to prioritize content you’d likely engage with. A social media platform ideally wants you to come back and so your experience is tailored to your preferences.

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With almost 3 billion active users in the second quarter of 2023, Facebook has the most social media users globally. It’s no wonder social media marketing has exploded. Digital marketers have a captive audience, with each user a gold mine for meaningful data. You’ll notice your news feed peppered with advertising material in between the types of content that interest you. 

But targeted advertising and ‘suggested’ specific posts among a friend’s interesting piece of content may seem intrusive. Instead of advertisements, you think, “why can’t I get more posts from friends I don’t usually interact with?”

The key question is, how can you tailor your content feeds so it appeals more intuitively to your interests and preferences?

How To Control Your Media Algorithm

Here are four ways to ‘hack’ your media algorithms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

1. Engage with content you trust and want more of

No matter what type of feed you are trying to create it’s crucial to follow reliable sources. This ensures the information you receive is accurate and trustworthy.

2. Limit the amount of information you give out

If you limit the amount of information you provide, you limit the extent to which the algorithm can target you. Remember to unlink your social media accounts and avoid using the “Login with Facebook” options when signing up for something.

3. Adjust your privacy and personalization settings

Implementing data privacy principles can be an effective way to avoid being micro-targeted through your social media feed. By limiting the information you provide and adjusting your preferences, you can reduce the amount of data available for algorithms to target you.

4. Disengage with content you don’t want

Ignore posts and accounts you don’t like. You can also hide them. Try to avoid “doom scrolling”. Regularly revisit who you follow and see whether their content aligns with your current tastes and interests.

How Invisibly Can Help You Control Your Feed (and your data)

With the Invisibly app, you are in control of your content, as well as the information you share about yourself. You can tap into a variety of news content from across the world. 

The app is free to download. Once you’ve created an account, there are four ways to access your favorite content:

1. Connect an account

Share it and forget it. Securely share your shopping history to access full content subscriptions from premium publications.

2. Share your opinion

Answer short surveys and earn points to unlock subscriptions and content.

3. Refer a friend

You can now invite your friends/contacts to join you on Invisibly. Once your referee accepts and downloads the app, you will earn 100 points per download.

4. Purchase more points

Out of points and don’t have time for surveys? You can always purchase additional points to keep accessing your subscriptions.

Media Algorithms: Frequently Asked Questions

Why do social media algorithms exist?

Social media algorithms use machine learning to enhance the user experience and increase engagement. By analyzing user behaviors and interactions, algorithms can personalize the content that users see on their feeds, filtering out content deemed irrelevant or low quality. This not only benefits the platform by generating more ad revenue but also benefits users by providing them with content that aligns with their interests.

What is the role of algorithms in social media?

Algorithms determine what content appears on users’ feeds, based on relevance, engagement, recency and other data variables. Algorithms are also used to personalize content and ads for individual users based on their browsing and search history, interests, and demographics.

What are examples of algorithms in social media?

The most common types of algorithms include recommendation algorithms, content filtering algorithms, content ranking algorithms, and content personalization algorithms.

Recommendation algorithms suggest content based on the user’s past behavior, while content filtering algorithms block or hide certain types of content based on predefined criteria. Content ranking algorithms prioritize content based on various factors, such as user engagement, relevance, and recency. Content personalization algorithms tailor content to the specific interests and preferences of the user based on their past behavior and interactions.

How do social media algorithms make money?

Social media algorithms generate revenue for platforms by leveraging user behavior and interactions to personalize content. Through targeted advertising, algorithms help advertisers reach their desired audience, effectively increasing revenue for the platform. Additionally, social media platforms charge businesses for promoted posts or sponsored content, providing another source of revenue.

What are the pros and cons of social media algorithms?

An algorithm monitors what a user finds interesting. If you see an ad for Halloween costumes on Instagram, for example, and you click on the link, the next day you may have similar ads on your newsfeed. The Instagram algorithm monitors your interests and your online behavior, including how long you hover over something, or what you like. This feature is convenient because it allows you to personalize your style and easily find products that align with your interests.

But, algorithms can limit the diversity of content that people see. This was apparent when, in 2021, Twitter (now X), realized that the Twitter algorithm created an echo-chamber phenomenon. This could lead to the spread of misinformation, biases and fake news.

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