Every tap on that keyboard, every search or purchase online, every time you say, “Hey Siri…” are all trackable behaviors which create your digital footprint. Take this trackable behavior a few layers deeper and you are unknowingly traveling down the tunnel of algorithms.
An algorithm, in the simplest form, is a command: “If this, then that.” For example, if this birdseed is sprinkled out on the ground, then the birds should come eat it. It’s a predictive model. If the birds do not come, then we try another area where they will come until we have success. Turning this model towards our brains on the internet, algorithms are underlying everything we do. If you spend a little time viewing puppies on Instagram, you will be served up posts and Reels that are suggestions based upon your previous puppy viewing. Instagram tracks your behavior and assumes that if you watched these puppies, then you must like puppies, dog food, dog toys, kids with puppies, puppies pooping and literally anything with puppies in it. The more you watch these suggestions, the more the algorithm fine tunes your online profile…and off you go merrily falling into the trap.
If you want to take this to an even deeper level, LinkedIn ran a series of experiments with their “People You May Know” section. Did you ever wonder how any of that worked and how “magical” it seemed that your friend you had not thought of in 30 years suddenly appeared as a contact? Your behavior while using LinkedIn was tracked for every step you took and algorithms were tested on users. Every bit of your posted information and resume was scrubbed to help build these algorithms. Were you doing the work on this platform or was it working you? Are the suggested jobs truly based upon your organic searches or upon LinkedIn’s algorithmic guesses on where to steer you? The bigger concern is whether you even knew this was happening. Did you give permission for your information to be made into a experiment and used to manipulate results? Take a look here and read more about LinkedIn’s so-called tests on its users.