THE MISSION

The goal of this experiment is to glimpse into the seemingly mysterious and methodical ways that algorithms shape our experience online. I’m hopeful that my findings will allow me to inform others about how their own online activity is being used to feed them content.

 
 
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  • Jordan Kahn

Day 7: 10/24/18

I felt like today would be a good day to make a post given the events that transpired. For those who do not know, suspicious packages thought to contain live explosives were intercepted in the mail. These packages were addressed to several prominent Democrats including Hillary and Bill Clinton, The Obamas, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. I felt like researching this topic through the lens of each political profile could help me see if websites would give me different information based on the previous data I've provided them.


I began with the conservative profile. Right away, on Fox News's website of all places, I was greeted with a full page click through ad for JB Pritzker, the Democrat running for governor in Illinois. This baffled me a little bit, as Fox News is by no means liberal in any respect.

When I went to The Daily Caller, another conservative site, I was hit with another full page ad, but this time for cosmetics. Another strange encounter.

As I suspected, the conservative news outlets I frequent on this profile had the bomb scare story front and center with varying degrees of skepticism in their coverage. I decided to do a test through Google's search to see if I would get any stories politically biased towards a conservative viewpoint.

One of the top stories that appeared in the search results (see above) clearly had a conservative viewpoint on the situation, but I'll get to why this finding became underwhelming later on.


On the liberal profile, it was no surprise that the main liberal-leaning news outlets I frequent had the bomb scare story front and center on their home pages.

I'm still receiving ads that target women on these websites as well. I'm still not sure if the algorithms truly marked me as a woman or if I'm just being given these ads by random chance.

When searching Google for stories on today's bomb scare, I was surprised to find the same conservative viewpoint (The Daily Wire) article that I saw in the conservative profile's results at the top of the liberal results page.


After all of this, I think I am left with more questions than answers. I didn't check Twitter today because I felt the content of this little experiment was sufficient.

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