Don’t be an algorithm bandit

AlgorithmSocial norms tend to change over time.

There was a time when placing your coat across a puddle to help your female companion cross the muddy street was the height of gallantry, just a notch or two below a duel to ‘protect her honour’.

In the modern world new social norms developed, further evolving recently to accommodate modern technology. For example, it is considered rude to answer your mobile phone on public transport and proceed to have a loud conversation, exposing fellow captive passengers to personal details of your life, or to respond to incoming text messages or calls while dining out with friends.

Today I am adding a new social norm to this modern list. Do not become an ‘algorithm bandit’!

Today’s streaming music services are controlled by algorithms that learn users’ preferences as users skip, unlike or like songs on their devices. If you are at a party, and someone else’s device is used to provide musical entertainment, do not touch the device just because you don’t like a song. Ask the owner of the device first.


By skipping a song on their device you could be messing with their algorithm. She or he may happen to love that song or artist you are about to skip, but once the song is skipped, the device’s personalised algorithm may register that skip as a ‘dislike’ and may play that song, even artist, less frequently.

You may have just messed with their algorithm. Not cool!

It’s a modern world, with modern problems and modern rules for social interactions.

Do you have a new social norm to share? Let me know below in the comments section …

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