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Algorithmic Literacy: Handout

Explore the impact of unseen algorithms on the online content we see and the ramifications on privacy, discrimination, and political polarization.

Algorithms and You What are algorithms? Algorithms are complex computational formulas used by online platforms like Google and Amazon to keep us engaged with their products and services. They collect data based on our online activity and use that data to tailor what we see... and what we don't see. Since the information we see is personalized based on assumptions about us, we are less likely to see diverse perspectives or conflicting points of view. The internet becomes an echo chamber reinforcing our beliefs.Five strategies for algorithmic literacy: Be Aware: Explore the personalization, privacy, and ad settings in any online services you use. Can you limit how your data, including your location, is tracked?Read Privacy Statements: Find out how Google, social media platforms, and even learning management systems like Blackboard may be sharing your data with other companies.Be Mindful: Follow news stories across multiple sites. Use a variety of search engines and databases for research. Try a search engine that doesn't collect your data, like DuckDuckGo. Examine Your Biases: Break out of your echo chamber and look for information across multiple platforms. How do your personal views affect the way you look for and interpret information?Get the Word Out: Talk with your friends and family about these issues. Advocate for companies to be transparent about how they use algorithms and how they use your data.

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Citizen Literacy was created by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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