European Union (EU) residents may now quietly revolt against artificial intelligence (AI) attention hackers on the most popular social media platforms by clicking a “no thanks” button. Users of popular platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, ByteDance’s TikTok, and Snap Inc.’s Snapchat now have the option to disable “personalized” content feeds based on tracking and revert to a more traditional news feed featuring posts from friends arranged in reverse chronological order, thanks to the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA). More adjustments are being carried out internationally by internet companies to facilitate compliance, so this ground-breaking rule is only the beginning.
What the DSA Means for Social Media
Facebook took the initiative to meet the requirements of the DSA by rolling out a new Feeds page that displays posts in reverse chronological order throughout the world. Without a doubt, the European Union rule requiring platforms to provide consumers the option to see non-personalized material affected this decision. In order to comply with the DSA, Facebook has removed all “Suggested For You” items from the chronological news feed. This clearly delineates the difference between tracking-based content suggestions and non-personalized content choices. The legislation assures that user agency is honored and preserved, even if Meta were to introduce AI-powered attention hacking into the modest chronological news stream.
The DSA and YouTube’s Reaction
As part of its efforts to comply with the DSA, YouTube has announced that it would no longer promote videos based on a user’s watching history to logged-in users who have the ‘watch history’ option off. This shift, inspired by the DSA, has been implemented all throughout the world, not only in the EU. Because of the large information asymmetry that platforms rely on to keep users interested inside their walled gardens, the option to turn off profiling-based content suggestions is crucial. Many people complain that they are flooded with cat videos on sites like Instagram because of the crass programming underlying these suggestions.
The Reign of the Algorithmic Cat Parade
Because of the ability of platforms to monitor user behavior and preferences, material can now be tailored to individual users. Instagram users, for instance, have complained that they are inundated with more cat videos after seeing one. Cat videos are cute and all, but it’s annoying when they pop up every time someone opens their account. By allowing consumers to choose non-personalized material, the DSA puts a halt to this algorithmic cat parade. Instagram users, for example, may now avoid material that has been carefully picked to grab their attention by restricting their feed to just posts from profiles they follow.
The Reintroduction of a Time-Ordered News Feed
The platform’s early days, when postings were shown in reverse chronological order, are recalled by Facebook’s introduction of the chronological news feed. The user experience is altered when the algorithmic ranking view is swapped for a chronological feed, since updates from friends who would otherwise be buried by the algorithm are now front and center. This simplification of the news feed is a reaction to algorithm-driven content that emphasizes interaction but may increase divisions in online communities. A more fair and accurate reflection of users’ social relationships is achieved when users may see unsorted postings from friends.
The Role of Free Will in TikTok
Even TikTok, with its focus on viral trends and content selection algorithm, is not immune to the DSA’s repercussions. However, the rule simply mandates that platforms provide a non-profiling option, thus the platform might still have a huge impact even without the ‘AI off’ lever. How the TikTok audience reacts to the new, impersonal streams is an open question. The dullness of unfiltered material may surprise users once they break out of the AI-filtered attention bubble. However, the simple choice to disable algorithmic content is welcome news for those who have had it with endless influencer blather and irrelevant background noise.
User Autonomy and the Decoupling of Platform Authority
The effects of the DSA are not limited to the ability of users to reject tailored material. It requires platforms to provide their data to external academics for independent examination of technosocial consequences and to detect and manage systemic hazards originating from their usage of AI. The adtech behemoths’ exploitation of information asymmetry to make money off of consumers’ time and attention makes this degree of public interest awareness long overdue. As its sibling law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), targets the most dominant intermediating digital platforms, the DSA heralds the beginning of the unbundling of platform dominance. The overarching goal of these rules is to give people more control and make the internet a more equitable place.
Celebrating the Ability to Quiet Quit Algorithms
Increased user agency on established platforms may not bring about a sudden seismic shift, but it’s still something to celebrate. Allowing people to opt out of receiving tailored material is a welcome development that has been long overdue. Users are becoming more discerning and demanding a genuine and tailored digital experience, which bodes well for the spread of the current trend of taking charge of one’s own online experience. In empowering people and making internet firms responsible for their algorithms and data practices, the EU regulation serves as an example for other nations to follow.
A new age of user empowerment on social media platforms has begun, according to the EU’s Digital Services Act. Users now have more say over their online experiences thanks to the option to switch from tailored content streams to chronological news feeds. The DSA and its companion legislation, the Digital Markets Act, are major strides in unbundling platform power and establishing equality in the digital sphere. The option to silence retirement algorithms is a major step forward, even though the full effects of these rules may take some time to become apparent. Users’ continued use of their expanded agency has the potential to significantly alter the way algorithms are used in social media, ultimately giving users more control.
See first source: TechCrunch
Q1: What is the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) and how does it impact social media platforms?
A: The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is a regulatory initiative that empowers European Union residents to control their online experiences on popular social media platforms. It allows users to opt out of receiving personalized content feeds based on tracking and revert to chronological news feeds featuring posts from friends. This regulation aims to provide users with greater autonomy and a more traditional browsing experience.
Q2: Which social media platforms are affected by the DSA’s changes?
A: The changes introduced by the DSA impact popular platforms such as Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, ByteDance’s TikTok, and Snap Inc.’s Snapchat. These platforms are required to offer users the option to switch to non-personalized content feeds in compliance with the DSA.
Q3: What is the significance of the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign?
A: The “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign is a creative response to the DSA’s impact on social media. It highlights how platforms like Facebook and YouTube are adjusting their content presentation to comply with the regulation. The campaign underscores the importance of user agency, offering users the choice to see non-personalized content and reversing the algorithmic dominance.
Q4: How does the DSA affect the content presentation on platforms like Facebook and YouTube?
A: Platforms like Facebook have introduced changes to their content presentation, such as offering a chronological news feed option and removing personalized “Suggested For You” content. YouTube has stopped promoting videos based on users’ watching history for those who have turned off the ‘watch history’ option. These changes reflect the DSA’s requirement to allow users to opt out of content profiling.
Q5: What does the “Reign of the Algorithmic Cat Parade” concept refer to?
A: The “Reign of the Algorithmic Cat Parade” refers to the prevalence of algorithmically curated content, often centered around cat-related material, on various online platforms. This phenomenon highlights how platforms use algorithms to tailor content to individual users, often resulting in repeated exposure to specific types of content, such as cat videos.
Q6: How does the DSA impact users’ experience of social media platforms like Instagram?
A: The DSA allows users to choose non-personalized content, thereby putting an end to the algorithmic cat parade. Users, such as those on Instagram, can now avoid material carefully selected to grab their attention and instead restrict their feed to posts from profiles they follow.
Q7: What is the significance of Facebook’s reintroduction of a time-ordered news feed?
A: Facebook’s reintroduction of a chronological news feed offers users an alternative to algorithm-driven content presentation. This change aims to provide a fair and accurate reflection of users’ social relationships, counteracting the potential division caused by algorithmic content.
Q8: How does the DSA enhance user agency and autonomy on social media platforms?
A: The DSA empowers users by allowing them to opt out of algorithmic content and choose non-personalized material. This shift gives users greater control over their online experience and reduces the dominance of algorithms in shaping content consumption.
Q9: How does the DSA impact internet companies’ data practices and AI usage?
A: The DSA requires platforms to provide data to external academics for independent analysis of technosocial consequences and to manage systemic risks related to AI usage. This aspect of the DSA holds internet companies accountable for their data practices and AI technologies.
Q10: What is the broader significance of the DSA in the digital sphere?
Featured Image Credit: Markus Spiske; Unsplash – Thank you!