From the History of Social Networks to a Machine Learning Harassment

Karina Nguyen
The Startup
Published in
10 min readDec 20, 2020

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Social networks have originated dozens years before social media has become ubiquitous on the Internet. Georg Simmel, a German sociologist, is considered to be the founding father of social network research.

by the New York Times

Simmel asked the questions on how people related to each other and introduced the term of ‘formal’ sociology. ‘Formal’ means that the attention is more emphasized on the nature of connections and the amount rather than their content. Beginning from the 1950s this approach has been used by a lot of American sociologists, however, in a slightly different context.

Researchers started analyzing the nature of connections that originated in communities: family, professional network, etc. The idea has furthered in understanding densities of those ties. In the 1970s the network has become a popular theme among multidisciplinary research groups. This has led to the origins of new methodologies and the idea of weak ties, which is often used to describe different phenomena on the internet.

In this article I will try to explore the effects of social network not only on social media, but also on some recent ethical discussions around technological objectivity of anti-rape technologies and online harassment that is evoked by some of the machine learning algorithms. I will take the…

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Karina Nguyen
The Startup

applied artist & researcher | prev. @nytimes, @dropbox, @square