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When you see the “for you” feed on a social media platform, you probably recognize that the platform’s algorithms weigh, among other things, your past engagements – clicks, likes and comments – to serve up content designed to keep you scrolling along. Teens tend to recognize this as well, but their relationships with the algorithms have a troubling dimension.

Information scientist Nora McDonald describes her recent research examining how teens interact with algorithms. The teens they interviewed felt they could control the algorithms by their actions, but they also often believe that the content served to them is an accurate reflection of their identities – at a vulnerable time for establishing their sense of self.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Teens say ‘for you’ algorithms get them right. Photo illustration by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Teens see social media algorithms as accurate reflections of themselves, study finds

Nora McDonald, George Mason University

Adolescents treat ‘for you’ algorithms as a social mirror and are willing to give up privacy to use it.

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