Algorithms are the secret sauce of Silicon Valley startups and social media giants. They are complex sets of rules—written in code—that dictate your experience when you’re scrolling through Twitter or Facebook or Instagram in your own digital ‘filter bubble.’ In this episode, Stanford Professors Mehran Sahami and Rob Reich join Ron Steslow to discuss Elon Musk’s proposal to make Twitter’s algorithms open source and what algorithmic transparency could mean for users, for civil society, and for democracy.
(02:21) What social media algorithms do and how they impact what you see on platforms
(05:01) The embedded values on social media platforms
(11:07) How algorithmic transparency could help bad actors
(12:23) What algorithms look for and what they’re trained to do
(15:05) Content moderation and algorithmic amplification
(23:53) Transparency without going open source
(28:01) Algorithmic choice through "middleware"
(32:27) Consumer Choice, misinformation, and filter bubbles
(48:43) Whether Democracy can withstand this
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