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Sculpting the Social Algorithm for Radical Futurity

Research paper

AI & Society ~ Coming in May 2022!

Social media has revolutionized the way information is distributed throughout society, as folks continue to rely entirely on these apps for information on current events, health protocols, and socio-political discussions. However, these containers of knowledge do not appear in the same shape for every user; Algorithms, informed by capitalist agendas, determine what information sifts through its networks and to whom. Data scientists, researchers, and activists have dissected the hidden mechanics fueling these popular platforms, inciting critical conversations around the harmful biases embedded in algorithms. These studies often skim the surface of how these algorithms digitally marginalize people of color, if acknowledging it at all. Even fewer have attempted to examine the role these algorithms play in the social activism and digital community organizing happening amongst communities of color via social media. Referring to indigenous scholar Marisa Elena Duarte's book Network Sovereignty as a framework of thought, this paper roots itself in the notion that technology is an extension of the agenda utilizing it. Through dissecting the algorithmic structures of popular social platforms among communities of color, this paper examines how social media distributes information within its networks and how its encoded biases silence Black, brown, and indigenous voices. This paper also provides insight into how BIPOC content-creators, when informed on how the algorithms work, can use these platforms to their advantage and effectively facilitate socio-political discourse online; Changing the narrative of social networks from being yet another landscape of white supremacy to instead a communal canvas for radical change.
What does it mean to have critical socio-political conversations around decolonization on a platform that chooses for you what information (content) you get to see?
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