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Media Literacy

Algo the Robot

Learn what ALGORITHMS are and how to outsmart them from this homemade robot built by local middle school students!

Algorithms Make Choices For You

In any given minute, there’s too much content (videos, memes, stories and other posts) to fit in your news feed or social media scroll!

So how do online platforms to decide what to show you?

They rely on algorithms.

The function of a social media algorithm is to deliver content to you that you find useful, interesting and engaging. It is not the same content your friend or classmate gets. It’s customized for you alone, based on your past behavior online (what you liked, shared, commented on, clicked on), the popular posts of the moment, content that seems to appeal to your demographic (your age, where you live, your language, income status, etc.) and sometimes, content that is paid to show up in a lot of feeds, whether you will like it or not.


Most Likely Machine

To better understand how algorithms work, play this fun game! It takes about 5 minutes; you decide what famous person from the past is “most likely” to be named biggest troublemaker or most viral based on characteristics you rank in your algorithm.

Algorithmic Bias illustration

Algorithms are basically formulas that solve a particular problem. In the case of social media, the “problem” being solved is which of the millions of posts available will actually show up in your feed. This can be convenient, as you are assured of seeing and hearing what you will probably like. But it is also limiting and isolating since algorithms will simply keep you in the same little bubble day after day.

The way to break out of the boundaries set by your algorithm is to diversify your media diet! Sample content across the array of choices by purposely looking up a new kind of music, checking out a fresh news site, or searching for a different style of movie, show, performer, or information!

Social Media Algorithms Warp How People Learn from Each Other

For parents, guardians, educators and library staff to learn more about algorithms:
Read More

Social Media Algorithms Can Be Redesigned to Bridge Divides

Interestingly, social media platforms have experimented with new algorithm formulas so we see more positive, agreeable and unifying content instead of divisive, emotional content. Read more here:
Read More

Activity Idea

Build your own robot out of recycled materials and odds and ends to represent the computerized algorithms that sort the information you see or don’t see online. Display your Algo Rhythm in your library space or take it home!
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