The algorithmic imaginary

Taina Bucher (2017) The algorithmic imaginary: exploring the ordinary affects of Facebook algorithms, Information, Communication & Society, 20:1, 30-44, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154086

This article explores experiences with online algorithms and folk theories about how those algorithms work through twitter posts about the facebook algorithm and email-based interviews. There is a sense of algorithms being opaque and often creepy. Participants expressed not understanding how the advertising algorithms on Facebook work. Bucher takes the view that algorithmic imaginaries are real in that they shape social life, including what people might buy and how they interact with Facebook in an attempt to tailor their ads. Such algorithmic responses to online behaviors do not always align with the identities users see of themselves. Some participants were uncomfortable with their categorizations, and others were even angry or upset. Some participants even tried to purposefully counteract the algorithm, to make it more inaccurate.