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Algorithmic Personalization and Online Radicalization

PI: Brian Ekdale, University of Iowa

Year selected for award: 2020

Project Title: Algorithmic Personalization and Online Radicalization: A Mixed Methods Approach

Principal Investigator: Brian Ekdale, University of Iowa

Co-Investigators: Timothy Havens, University of Iowa ; Andrew High, Penn State University ;Raven Maragh-Lloyd, Gonzaga University ;Rishab Nithyanand, University of Iowa

Years of Award: 2021–2023

Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Project Description:
Social media algorithms that personalize user content pose a significant concern for American national security because they have the potential to intensify “reinforcing spirals” (Slater, 2007) that can lead users toward extremism. Our previous work (Le et al., 2019) has shown that algorithmic personalization is higher for populations with extreme ideological beliefs; therefore, there is an urgent need to identify factors that make one vulnerable to radicalization online. Our overall objectives for this project are, first, to identify the technological, psychological, and cultural factors that contribute to radicalization of vulnerable populations on social media and, second, to develop tools that can identify and predict radicalization on social media.