(social media algorithm) An automated set of rules for sorting data. Computerized algorithms are used for a variety of purposes in online and mobile media, such as for text prediction or phrase completion (as when users type search queries or compose text messages). *Content filtering algorithms are widespread. In *sentiment analysis, algorithms are used to classify *posts as reflecting positive, negative, and neutral evaluations of a brand by users. See also PREDICTION ENGINE; PREDICTIVE ALGORITHM; RECOMMENDATION ENGINE.


Bias is a disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, or a belief. In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error.


bot[5] (online bot) [abbrev. ‘robot'] A computer program designed to carry out automated tasks online such as gathering data. See also CRAWLER; SOCIAL BOT; SPAMBOT.


confirmation bias[5] A tendency to selectively attend to information that confirms one's expectations or beliefs and to discount that which does not. See also ECHO CHAMBER.


echo chamber[5] A mainstreaming ideological effect in which a group worldview is reinforced through continual circulation amongst like minded people (such as an online or social media echo chamber). For example, political blogs tend to link with those which reinforce their values and to be disconnected from dissident voices, undermining democratic debate. The feedback loop is amplified by algorithmic *recommendation engines, so that individuals dwell within *filter bubbles. See also BALKANIZATION; BONDING CAPITAL; BRIDGING CAPITAL; CONFIRMATION BIAS; DIGITAL DEMOCRACY; DISCONNECTEDNESS; ENGAGEMENT; GOVERNANCE; HOMOPHILY; NETWORKED INDIVIDUALISM; SOCIAL MEDIA


Fake news is false or misleading information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.


filtered feed[5] (algorithmically filtered feed) A system in which posts in the *timeline of a social media app is not transparently presented in (reverse) chronological order but are automatically selected and presented according to a newsfeed algorithm, typically with reference to ‘relevance to the user and/or to the relative ‘importance of each post. See also AFFINITY SCORE; EDGERANK; EDGE WEIGHT; RELEVANCE RANKING; TIME DECAY.


newsfeed (news feed)[5] 1. (web feed) Updates from online sources to which users have subscribed. See also CONTENT DISTRIBUTION; FEED READER; RSS; SYNDICATED NEWS.
2. In *social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the posts which appear on the user's homepage from the contacts they follow. See also FILTERED FEED.


online behavioural tracking[5] The practice of automatically recording details of the online activities of internet users through the use of tools such as *cookies.


online profiling[5] (online behavioural profiling) Assembling dynamic collections of data about the web-browsing activity of individuals in order to target advertising to their interests. This may be anonymous or personally identifiable. See also CONSUMER PRIVACY; INTEREST-BASED ADVERTISING; INTEREST SEGMENTS; MICROTARGETING; ONLINE BEHAVIOURAL ADVERTISING; ONLINE BEHAVIOURAL DATA; ONLINE BEHAVIOURAL TRACKING; PREDICTION ENGINE; PRIVACY; PRIVACY POLICY.