The Scary Black Box: AI Driven Recommender Algorithms as The Most Powerful Social Force


  • Ljubiša Bojić Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, Digital Society Lab, University of Belgrade, Serbia
  • Aleksandra Bulatović Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade, Serbia
  • Simona Žikić Faculty for Media and Communication, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia



mass media, social polarization, echo chambers, negative news, recommender systems


Recommender algorithms shape societies by individually exposing online users to everything they see, hear and feel in real time. We examine the development of recommender algorithms from the Page Rank and advertising platforms to social media trending tools to draw conclusions about their social effects. Decisions on how to simplify the complex world around us into dozens of possibilities immensely affect societies and individuals. Similar to our perceptive apparatus, algorithms are eyes and ears in the online world, as they focus our attention towards what they "think" should be important, which is similar to news priming. That is why recommender algorithms are compared to mass media, given their similar roles to sell products and prolong content exposure of online users. This inquiry concludes that AI driven recommender algorithms represent the most powerful social force at present.


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How to Cite

Bojić, Ljubiša, Aleksandra Bulatović, and Simona Žikić. 2022. “The Scary Black Box: AI Driven Recommender Algorithms As The Most Powerful Social Force”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (2):719–744.