How Technology and Algorithms Are Keeping You in a Box
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other big tech companies are using confirmation bias to keep us on their platform.

This what happens when you mix technology and psychology

Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other big tech companies are using confirmation bias, our psychological tendency to seek out information that reinforces our current point of view, to keep us on their platform.

Here is a fact.

We tend to look for information that proves we’re right. We don’t want to be wrong. And the process of looking for information that says we’re right is how we commit confirmation bias because when we look for information that says we’re right we disregard information saying we’re wrong.

While looking for information that supports your views and beliefs has its place, it can be a problem if you’re learning something new or trying to change your life.

Let’s say you’re learning something new like SEO, and you want to be sure that you’re understanding it correctly. So you’ll look for information that supports your ideas on what SEO is and how to do it, and overlooking information that contradicts your point of view.

Because someone can tell you backlinks are more important than keywords, or keywords are more important than backlinks but in reality, they are both information and should be used in combination to reach your goal of ranking higher in the search results.

Another example of when confirmation bias can have a detrimental impact on your life is when you engage in negative self-talk. When you say things like you’re stupid or you’re not good enough and a situation happens where you make a mistake then you’ll reinforce that idea of not being good enough. 

When the truth is we all make mistakes and making a mistake doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake.

That’s confirmation bias, so how are companies Instagram, Facebook and Medium using our natural human tendency to keep us on their platform?

It’s simple.

They show us content we like.

This is smart, damn near genius. If you want people to keep using your app, and stay on your platform, show them what they like, and don’t challenge their views by showing them content that does. 

I’m not saying it’s wrong, and I’m not saying I don’t like it. What I am saying is these companies use algorithms that keep you in a box by showing you content around what you like already.

Don’t believe me?

The For You page on TikTok is tailored to what you like. TikTok says, “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too — to form your personalized For You feed.”

On Medium the algorithm shows you content based on your reading history. So if you read stories on self-improvement and writing, they are going to give you more articles on self-improvement and writing. The writing they show you may not be the best writing on the topic but it’s the type of writing you like reading. 

If you like the content getting cool, stay in your box. But if you don’t go to your setting and clear your history. This will restart the algorithm and show you new and different content.

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