Algorithms can’t control your online activity on Facebook, Google and YouTube; learn the trick.

There are chances, by the time you have read this, you have already run through several algorithms throughout your day. Algorithms have curated an average person's life more than anything. The world in 2020 has plenty of facts to be cautious of algorithms. Considering the US presidential election results, we can count one more reason. 

Your life, not if controlled, but is at least being curated by more than half a dozen algorithms every day. Some are even more illegitimate than others. These finite sequences of computer implementable instructions have an increasing impact on determining what we see online or what we don’t. 

Its impact is beginning to rise to a bewildering degree, and millions of individuals have to face the waving effects. It is the year when the Chinese government is going to officially launch the Social Credit System, an ominous Black Mirror. It may boost or may tighten financial credit and other incentives for the entire population but it may not quite turn out as bad as you are predicting. There are zillions of other unexamined algorithms that have influenced uncountable human lives. 

Like in the UK, most of the population will forget this year's A level algorithm that are key exams for 18-year-olds influencing their college offers. The exams got cancelled due to this pandemic. To cover the results, the teachers were asked to give an estimate score of each person. But the government put these numbers into algorithms along with the school’s previous performances. 40% of the teacher's score estimates were downgraded leading high-achieving kids to face disadvantage. 

Algorithms, in turn, influence the news we see, help companies to predict what products customers are more likely to buy, tell politicians how you will vote, and the police officers whether or not one is likely to commit a crime. But people don't really think of algorithms, but only look at the results. Although, the algorithm is just a set of well-defined instructions so it is not racist, or classist, or even authoritarian. 

If you are aware of the science fiction film, Minority Report, you may have seen how the would-be criminals are convicted even before they break the law. Perhaps you did not know that it was based on an algorithm.

"In all sorts of ways. From what we choose to read and watch to whom we choose to date, algorithms are increasingly playing a huge role. And it's not just the obvious cases, like Google search algorithms or Amazon recommendation algorithms”, said Hannah Fry when asked how algorithms are changing human life in an interview by Vox.

“We have invited these algorithms into our courtrooms and our hospitals and our schools, and they are making these tiny decisions on our behalf that are subtly shifting the way our society is operating.”

One cannot live without algorithms entirely because we are highly dependable on them to calculate multiple probabilities faster and more effectively than the human mind. According to Mashable, studies have shown that social media algorithms can alter our mood and can govern our brains. This is how algorithms in 2020 have effected major content services:

1. Facebook

Facebook, having the strongest algorithm, has nearly 2 billion visits daily. Almost all of them allow algorithm present posts that are most engaging as determined by the company. Content that causes big discussions are pushed to the top and Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Presently, if you take a look at the top posts in 2020 on Facebook, they are ruled by names like Ben Shapiro, Franklin Graham, and Sean Hannity.

However, even conservatives have caused them to be disturbed by Facebook Algorithms.

You still can reduce their influence by removing the sorting algorithm from your timeline. Instead of watching your friends' popular posts, watch all your friends post in reverse chronological order. 

2. YouTube

The 70% of YouTube videos we watch daily are recommended by the service’s algorithm. Those video results are optimized to make the viewer watch more YouTube videos and ads. The platform prioritizes controversial content so that you watch it even if you do not want to. Then the algorithm assumes the kind of videos you like and suggests you the similar kind of videos that most viewers watched next. 

One solution to stop automatically watching the next videos is turning off auto-play. This will stop you to watch all the recommended videos assumed by the YouTube algorithm.

3. Instagram

Unlike the parent company Facebook, Instagram still does not allow you to see the posts in reverse chronological order. It vanished that option back in 2016 which led to many conspiracy theories of "shadow Banning". It will show certain names always on the top even if you keep scrolling for long. However, the platform has recently given its users the option to see with whom they’ve interacted the least. At the “following” option in your account, you’ll see two categories, “Least Interacted With” and “Most shown in Feed”. Besides, you also have the option to sort your feed by the order in which you followed your friends. 

4. Twitter

Twitter has long been known for following the format of showing the most recent posts. The founder has introduced solutions that will allow you to follow topics and not just people in order of the most engaging posts at the top. 

You can go back to the basic Twitter format by clicking at the ‘Home' icon on the top of the page. By clicking on the star icon next to it, you can go back to the traditional style 'latest Tweets' format. It may be difficult or time taking for you to find a good tweet on Twitter. But the 'latest Tweets' can be a range of information from your followers and the accounts you follow. 


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