Antisocial media and algorithmic deviancy amplification: Analysing the id of Facebook’s technological unconscious

Wood, M. A. (2017). Antisocial media and algorithmic deviancy amplification: Analysing the id of Facebook’s technological unconscious. Theoretical Criminology, 21(2), 168–185.


Open access: No

Notes: The article explores the phenomenon of fight pages on Facebook. Wood defines and expands on the term’ antisocial media’ are that are, in short, transgression aggregators: sites dedicated to hosting “(1) footage of illicit acts, (2) discourses that condone or legitimize these acts, and (3) forums for individuals to discuss these acts.” (p. 169) He also introduces the term algorithmic deviancy amplification: “the process whereby an individual increasingly encounters content that promotes or condones illicit acts as a result of the interaction between their online activity and a site’s personalization algorithms” (p. 170) In this sense, violence online is highly interactive, not-linear, and hyperconnected.

Quotes: “YouTube hosted channels, fight-tubes, and Facebook fight pages, therefore, differ not only in their size and number of users but fundamentally in their affordances and intended uses, rendering generalizations about social media difficult and undesirable. (p. 172)

Abstract: Fight pages are user-generated Facebook pages dedicated to hosting footage of street fights and other forms of bare-knuckle violence. In this article, I argue that these pages exemplify an emergent and under-researched online phenomenon that may be termed antisocial media: participatory webpages that aggregate, publically host, and sympathetically curate footage of criminalized acts. To properly apprehend the implications of antisocial media for the mediation, distribution, and consumption of footage of criminalized acts, we must be attentive to the specificities of their architecture, their affordances and, increasingly, their personalization algorithms, which tailor the content a user receives to reflect their inferred preferences. This article therefore analyses the ‘technological unconscious’ of Facebook to demonstrate how the interactivity and personalization of the site’s information landscapes have the potential to reinforce or amplify fight page users’ often-harmful attitudes towards violence.

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