Do social media algorithms favor “sexualized posts”?

Do social media algorithms favor “sexualized posts”?

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“Even if a female pilot doesn’t turn to social media, as Nadia did, with the cynical intention of trading on her appearance, she’ll quickly find that social media algorithms reward sexualized posts. Being a social media influencer these days comes with so many perks and earning opportunities — from free travel to Breitling sponsorships — that even accomplished professional women may be tempted to post boob shots and duck faces to boost their follower counts.”

Source: Christine Negroni » Will Jeff Epstein’s Popular “Global Girl” Face Sex Crime Charges Too?

(Nadia is an Airline Transport rated commercial pilot, with B-737 type rating. Per the news report, citing court documents, she appears to have been recruited by Jeffrey Epstein, when she was a teen. And there are suggestions he paid for her expensive flight training. Nadia also had an online presence as “Global Girl”, covering some of her aviation activities. The linked story is about the Epstein link – but this post, below, is about the one line mentioning algorithms rewarding sexualized posts.)

I had never thought of this … today’s image analysis can readily identify sexualized posts, or merely good looking young people – and give those posts (or Youtube videos) more opportunities to be viewed. There is no question at all that sex has been used forever in advertising and marketing to drive sales. Social media platforms want more eyeballs spending more minutes for advertising.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram DO NOT present a chronological time line of posts from your friends, but use an algorithm to select what you see. On both Twitter and Instagram, the algorithms choose to show you posts from people you do not follow.

The algorithm apparently rewards good looks and content providers respond by creating more content that satisfies the algorithm. Further, it appears that Instagram’s algorithm may favor female influencers over males. Market researchers say that women receive about 50% higher fees than men, for the same number of viewers. Some of this has been explained by noting that there were more women using IG than men, and that IG was well suited for fashion, hair and make up photography, categories that had performed very well on Youtube.

It’s all about appearances and looks:

“If you want to start a lifestyle or beauty channel, you have a one in a million shot of being successful now,” Asano says of women who are just getting started. “If you’re a decent-looking guy who has some sense of style, you can probably become a reasonably-sized men’s fashion influencer or a lifestyle influencer at this point.”

The last sentence is saying that IG is now saturated with attractive female influencers but there is still some room for attractive males to build influence.

While conventional wisdom tells us not to focus on looks, not be embarrassed about one’s weight or height – the reality is that social media platforms do the opposite, and the user community, probably without being aware of it, reward those who won the genetics lottery for appearance.

Bottom line: much of social media is fostered on appearance and rewards those who are good looking (not so different from Hollywood?) Data suggests social media especially rewards attractive women more so than attractive men. There could also be biases toward some ethnicities over others.

Related: The social media content we see today is selected for us by algorithms that favor sales opportunities. Youtube is filled with make up videos because those videos sell make up products. Youtube is filled with camera review videos because those videos help to sell camera products through affiliate links. Youtube also has other genres – like the “off grid”, “build your own homestead” category – which help to sell construction and home-related products. Many, perhaps most of the popular social media accounts are focused on selling stuff. Often, the selling is a “soft sell”. You never saw an add, but you might not realize that home builder was paid to use tools provided by a sponsor. Or that the clothes worn by that attractive Instagrammer were provided by a paid sponsor.

Corollary: If you want to create a successful Youtube or IG channel, your best bet is to select a topic that can provide sales opportunities. The opportunity for sponsorship and ad payments will go up sharply. You, or at least some of those who appear in you content, will probably need to be young and attractive too.

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