Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook News Feed
Christian Sandvig, University of Michigan; Karrie G. Karahalios, University of Illinois; and Cedric Langbort, University of Illinois
July 22nd, 2014 at 12:30pm ET
Our online lives are organized by computer algorithms that select and recommend advertisements, search results, news, and online social interactions. These algorithms are often closely-guarded secrets kept by Internet companies, but researchers, users, and the public might legitimately need to know how these algorithms operate. In this talk we will use the Facebook news feed as an example to ask: How do we go about knowing these algorithms from the outside? This includes a discussion of potential research designs that investigate algorithms and also research on how users think about these algorithms.
Christian Sandvig is Steelcase Research Professor and Associate Professor in Communication Studies and at the School of Information at the University of Michigan, where he specializes in research investigating the development of Internet infrastructure and public policy. His current research involves the study of information infrastructures that depend upon the algorithmic selection of content. Sandvig’s work has examined such topics as wireless Internet design and use, expanding broadband access, the difference between rural and urban Internet users, and the role of government in the provision of broadband service.
Karrie Karahalios is an associate professor in computer science at the University of Illinois where she heads the Social Spaces Group. Her work focuses on the interaction between people and the social cues they emit and perceive in face-to-face and mediated electronic spaces. Her work is informed by communication studies and visualizations of social communities. Of particular interest are interfaces for public online and physical gathering spaces such as twitter, chatrooms, cafes, parks, etc. Research projects range from studying tie strength between people to encouraging vocalization through visualization. A major theme in the work is to create interfaces that enable users to perceive conversational patterns that are present, but not obvious, in traditional communication interfaces.
Cedric Langbort is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering and a member of the Information Trust Institute and the Decision and Control Group of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Langbort is a game theorist whose research focuses on distributed decision and control theory and its application to large-scale public infrastructures and “smart” infrastructures. His previous work investigated game theoretic approaches to cyber-security.