What is an algorithm?

Spencer Batten poses for a picture at the Infomedia office

At a basic level, an algorithm is a set of rules that is used to solve a problem. When it comes to social media algorithms, you can post something, and the information included in your post determines whether your post will show on someone’s feed.

Take YouTube as an example. Years ago, YouTube’s algorithm was a lot simpler. But now, YouTube employs the “magic black box” of machine learning, which is what most social media platforms use. When you hear people talking about the algorithm, that’s what they’re referring to. The goal of these algorithms is to get users to stay on the app longer.

In general, the social media algorithm will pull in posts that are more engaging to the specific user — that way, the user will be more inclined to spend more time on the app.

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