The perceived role of the Instagram algorithm in gender inequality - Analyzing the public discourse around the case of Nyome Nicholas-Williams
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Social media algorithms have come to have more social power than ever, and with this power, the question of discriminatory actions targeted at specific users based on algorithmic bias has risen. The objective of this study is to analyze the different perceptions of the Instagram algorithm in the case of plus-size model and activist Nyome Nicholas-Williams’ posts being removed from Instagram due to this alleged algorithmic bias. The research includes a critical discourse analysis of utterances by different stakeholders of the studied case. It relies on the combination of new media studies and gender studies, as it connects questions of algorithmic bias to those of gender studies concerning intersectionality and representation. The results of the analysis include two main notions:the differences in perception of the controllability of the Instagram algorithm, and the agreed upon perception of the alleged bias’s effects on intersectional gender inequality.These results show the variety in the perceptions of the algorithmic bias on Instagram, but also give insights into its intersectionally prominent effects on gender inequality.