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How to beat the algorithm and think for yourself

The Harvard Business Review article linked comes at a time when people are straining against algorithmic influence on social media. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat each use algorithms to organise content in users' feeds. This puts the stuff you're supposed to find important above the stuff that was posted most recently, often to the annoyance of users. Facebook and YouTube also rely on algorithms to surface the content they think users want to see— and as we have seen lately, sometimes to dire consequences. 

While for most of these platforms the algorithmically generated home feed will remains standard, just as it's always been. But as outlined below, now, users have a way to take back some of the control over what they're scrolling through. Or otherwise, when your sick of the same roll of posts and run out of new content from the people you follow, you can simply toggle back to the main feed to get more recommendations.

First, just be aware of what’s going on (a lot of decisions are being made for you by invisible code) and what’s at stake. Reading up on the issue is a good start. Second, help the algorithm. Or game it. Change your settings to allow some randomised recommendations (if the system has this feature). Third, get off the radar. From browsing privately in incognito mode to searching anonymously with a search engine that doesn’t track you like duckduckgo. Fourth, consciously decide how much human influence you want. Personalised email digests and social media feeds are algorithmically determined. Fifth, step out of the digital echo chamber by stepping out of digital altogether. Pay greater attention to the feelings, observations, musings, and conversations you have in real life.

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