Medium Response #6 — Filtering
COMS490 Sp16


Describe how filtering impacts communication across social movements. You can look at algorithmic filtering as an example.

How do you feel about algorithmic filtering in the context of social movements? What does this say about who has the power on social media? Do you consider algorithmic filtering a form of censorship?

Algorithmic filtering presents both benefits and challenges to communication and social movements. To begin, Algorithmic filtering can greatly benefit social movement when individuals create spikes by talking about a specific topic. Generating talk through hashtags and references can boost content related to a social movement to the most “talked-about” or “trending” sections of a media platform. Algorithmic filtering can also be beneficial when it comes to communication because it drowns out all the access news and entertainment content from feeds. When this happens, news about the social movement can bubble up to the top and gain traction for my viewership. This also allows individuals who are like-minded or interested in a similar topic to communicate with each other and see what others have said about the movement.

Algorithmic filtering can also hinder the growth of social movement by limiting the content of what individuals see on their social media platforms. The quote that struck me the most in the medium article linked for this week was: “ Algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the internet”. Before learning about Ferguson and Facebook and how Facebook’s algorithm hindered Ferguson from trending on it’s platform, I didn’t see the downfalls of algorithmic filtering. After reading the article, I can see how potentially dangerous algorithmic filtering can be if individuals who need their voices heard are drowned out. It also shows the increasing importance of social media in our consumption of information and news. If there was no Twitter during the Ferguson riots, then we might have never understood the racial tensions and outcry that occurred after the shooting of Michael Brown.

When social movements like the one in Ferguson are filtered out, then they really have a slim chance of gaining traction. Traditional media and mass media outlets are already skewed in that they misrepresent large populations of minorities. Couple this with algorithmic filtering and the result is that cities like Ferguson wont be heard by the masses. I do consider this a form of censorship and dis-empowerment. If the police is against you, the government isn’t hearing you, and you aren’t backed by the media, and your only outlet are social media outlets but those are filtered too, then you don’t really have a voice.

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