Social media algorithms, artificial intelligence, and our own genetics are among the factors influencing us beyond our awareness. This raises an ancient question: do we have control over our own lives? This article is part of The Conversation’s series on the science of free will.
Have you ever watched a video or movie because YouTube or Netflix recommended it to you? Or added a friend on Facebook from the list of “people you may know”?
And how does Twitter decide which tweets to show you at the top of your feed?
These platforms are driven by algorithms, which rank and recommend content for us based on our data.
As Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, Boston, explains:
If you want to know when social media companies are trying to manipulate you into disclosing information or engaging more, the answer is always.