Macro-effects of microtargeting: the ethics of our attention economy

Conference room B

With the advertising industry fuelling platforms and services online, the way people consume information has changed fundamentally. Information we intentionally seek out is only part of our daily information diet. News items, products, entertainment, and opinions we are “fed” today are increasingly selected and calibrated according to our personal preferences and what we are likely to engage with, buy and approve of.

Algorithms, as they are currently used on social media platforms, have shown a tendency to polarise and to reflect or even exacerbate pre-existing biases in society. So who should make the decision about what comes to our attention? And what are the criteria that should guide such decisions? How do we walk the line between truth commissions and the principle of free speech?