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The Pros and Cons of Social Media Algorithms

Point-of-view: you are scrolling your social media timeline. Have you ever seen an ad for the exact pair of shoes you were considering buying online earlier that week? Or did you recently adopt a dog and now your social media feed is flooded with posts targeted toward new dog owners? It’s no coincidence. Today’s AI-powered social media platforms use advanced algorithms to curate content just for you.

Social media algorithms are built into the platform design process for various use cases, such as sorting data and ranking content at a speed and scale that would be impossible for humans. Notably, algorithmic content moderation forms the backbone of social media security by restricting illegal, harmful, or inappropriate content. Algorithms ensure the safety and effectiveness of digital platforms.

While social media algorithms have powerful technological capabilities, maintaining a safe digital environment for billions of people among an abundance of content poses many challenges. As Congress looks to address the offline ramifications of social media, there are bipartisan concerns algorithms may influence these real-world harms.1 If policymakers intend to regulate how digital platforms use algorithms, they must understand the implications and tradeoffs of this rapidly advancing technology. This explainer provides a brief high-level overview of the numerous benefits of social media algorithms while contrasting their limitations.

11 Tradeoffs of Social Media Algorithms:

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