Is Medium’s Algorithm Implicitly Biased or More To The Point, Culturally Relativist?
Some questions need to be asked….
This is an article that I have wanted to write for a very long time, but hadn’t done so for a lack of testicular fortitude. But reading Dr. Mehmet Yildiz’s experience with the medium survey, allied to going through the exact same thing, too, has somewhat emboldened me.
Reading Ev Williams’ article, yesterday, announcing Mariam Naficy’s appointment to the Board of directors, while burnishing the social justice credentials of the other board members such as Colin Kaepernick and Biz Stone, you are left with the distinction that all is well with the medium world, in the aftermath of its recent restructuring
But is it?
Even though I have had a decent number of articles curated on this platform on different subjects and I was sent an email stating that I am a top writer in politics and economics, there’s the lingering impression that besides the opacity behind the stories which are thrust to the forefront of the platform, if you aren’t of a certain demographic, there’s a limit to how much exposure you get on your articles.
You take two articles on the same subject, one written by a white female and the other by a Black male with a foreign sounding name and I guarantee you and I am prepared to put my mortgage on this, that based on the algorithm, on medium, the foreign sounding name, however qualitative the work, will end up playing second fiddle.
Watching the social dilemma on Netflix, One of the participants defined algorithms as opinion built into the codes. Knowing that medium is American, It’s bound to, more than anything else, to cater to its American audience, before the British, Australian, Indian, Sri Lankan, South African and Nigerian audiences.
But why is this the case? why should the american audience be catered above the British, or the British ahead of the Australian, if they are all paid members?
Is medium’s algorithm saying that American needs are culturally superior to everyone else’s?
I read an article, here, a few months ago, in which a Black writer’s words were plagiarized by a white editor of one of the major publications and even after getting called out by the original writer, she escaped censure for her actions.
What message are we putting out there, with this particular medium staff getting away with blatant plagiarism?
Are we saying that for any complex issue to be taken seriously, it has to come from a white female?
What if the boss from hell was one of your followers on medium?
Imagine a sexist, racist, psychologically abusive and an all round shit head being your boss? Our chap was all of those…
I have always had the view that despite rhetoric to the contrary, Medium has never been a level playing field, in terms of what gets air play and from whom.
The suspicion that I have always harbored for the longest time, seemed to have been confirmed when I received the same humiliating response as Dr. Mehmet Yildiz, at the end of the survey.
While all animals are equal, it seems that, some animals are more equal by others.
If you are reading this Ev Williams, I would like to know what you are doing to address these issues.
Thanks very much for reading.