I'm delighted to introduce my new working paper 'Algorithms patrolling content: where's the harm?An empirical examination of Facebook shadow bans and their impact on users.

  READ THE FULL ABSTRACT & DOWNLOAD  it via SSRN

 

The paper reveals how the Facebook shadow ban works by blocking dissemination of content in News Feed. This is Facebook’s  recommender system that curates content for users, and is also the name of the algorithm 

 that encodes the process.  The paper investigates shadow bans experienced by 20 UK Facebook Pages, that were 'ghosted' or 'hidden' for varying lengths of time, with no possibility to appeal. The findings raise questions about how to balance  freedom of expression against other rights in the online context. 

This is a very different approach from my previous research, because it involves data analysis of Facebook Pages, and goes  'under the bonnet' to look at how Facebook operates from the user's perspective.  For me, it has been an amazing journey,  working with users and trying to unravel what is happening to them from behind the scenes. The outcomes suggest that an up-ending of the current policy approach is needed  - we must move away from a model based on the old media systems, that just looks at what's on the surface, and develop an understanding of how these platforms really operate.