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Student Research Guide WQ24/ Instagram's Algorithm

Student Research Guide for Library 201/ Jevoni Potter

Major Findings From This Research

The major takeaways from my research are that social media has been led down a long path of unmoderated chaos by those who do not truly care for the safety and privacy of its online users. Capitalism and other ideas of a free world free of the rule of law have created a dangerous environment where the sickest human instincts become clear. The answer to these problems is improved moderation on platforms and better guidelines for what is and is not permitted.

Research Advice and Reflection

Advice for future researchers:

  • If researching Instagram or another app purchased by Facebook, make sure to research Facebook too. I found that much of Facebook's history and policies bled into and became fundamental elements of the apps it had integrated with. Facebook is a core root in the history of these apps and can offer a huge perspective as to why many decisions were made.
  • The data from articles can be very confusing to understand at first by try to break it down and understand it one piece at a time. Drawing conclusions from sample data one at a time can make the information easier to swallow and provide some context or conclusions.
  • The creators of the social media software are very important. I found a lot of valuable information in reading about the creators and CEOs, especially in terms of relating their characters and values to the character and values of their companies.

Reflection on research experience:

Researching a topic like this may seem simple due to how common it is. Almost everyone has been exposed to social media and because of this, we tend to overlook many obvious but dangerous elements of the platform. My research revealed a lot of information I did not consider prior. I struggled at first to track down significant sources for the questions I was looking for, but after I narrowed down certain keywords I began to find some good sources of information that were extremely valuable to me. I wanted to find sources that focused on Instagram itself, as a separate entity. I soon realized, however, that a defining milestone in the path of Instagram was its being purchased by Facebook. Facebook is such a fundamental cornerstone in Instagram's story it's impossible to leave it out. As soon as I figured out I couldn't leave Facebook out of the picture I stopped getting hung up on struggling to find articles that gave me the info I wanted. In my research, my favorite part was definitely when the pieces began to fit together in Instagram's history to make a clear narrative. It felt so satisfying to finally feel like I could see the bigger picture. While conducting my research I ended up going down an entirely different path, one which shifted my entire research paper to a new topic, shifting focus from how Instagram works now to a new look at why it works the way it does now. I found there was a lot more to write about the decisions leading to some of the problems we have today. My research has given me a changed perspective on not only Instagram but social media as a whole. The story of why the problems we have today exist is not only fascinating but extremely tragic and shameful to retell.

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