PRECARITY, DISCRIMINATION AND (IN)VISIBILITY: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF “THE ALGORITHM” IN THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY
Keywords:influencer industry, algorithms, YouTube, platformisation, creative labour
AbstractYouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system – known colloquially as “The Algorithm” – is a powerful character in the lives of professional and aspiring social media content creators, exerting various pressures on them in their struggles for visibility and income. This paper brings an anthropological approach to the study of algorithms in the context of platformised creative work, seeking to understand YouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system as situated in content creators’ everyday lives through a triangulated examination of their discourses, practices and experiences. “The Algorithm” is variously understood as an omnipotent God, a black box to be opened, a mystery to be solved, a voracious machine, and an oppressor of marginalised groups. Above all, it is viewed as unknowable, impenetrable, mysterious, and inscrutable. Though creators’ experiences vary significantly based on a myriad of factors, amongst my participants “The Algorithm” was universally understood as an antagonistic force, one which heightened conditions of precarity and made their working lives more unpredictable and stressful. With an ever-increasing number of people seeking careers as content creators, it is vital to interrogate the emerging and problematic sociotechnological formations that are core to this new form of labour.
How to Cite
Glatt, Z. (2023). PRECARITY, DISCRIMINATION AND (IN)VISIBILITY: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF “THE ALGORITHM” IN THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.13009