With the growth of the internet, a large number of social platforms have been developed that provide a platform for discussion to the masses, such as Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter… As these software are getting deeper and deeper into the various crevices of people’s lives day by day, they are deciding what the buzz of life is going to be. In addition to that, many people choose to share all sorts of things, in order to get different voices to discuss the things themselves. In some specific Chinese socio-cultural contexts, the issue of gender equality is strongly emphasized in the platform of Douyin and creates a strong issue of gender confrontation with the operation of Douyin’s algorithm.
The crisis from the Internet that society is facing
In recent years, feminist movements have been active in a number of countries, including Iran and China .According to RS WATSON’s (1991) study on China’s social structure, China is still a male-dominated society, where most women are the losers in the marriage relationship in order to preserve the marriage. As a result, women who grew up in families of that era do not have a strong desire for marriage, and the new generation of young people seems to have developed a serious tendency toward gender antagonism. In the popular short-video software “Douyin“, there are often discussions on the issue of gender equality, and men and women will comment on each other and accuse each other under the video.
Looking for other friendly voices?
It’s hard to be heard. Douyin has a special algorithm that also filters the comments. The data provided by each user determines what will be shown in the comments section and what will be “muted”. The gender dichotomy in China is becoming more acute as men and women in China see only comments that match their own perceptions, thanks to the algorithmic manipulation of the data.
Risky algorithms and techniques
What has to be discussed about Douyin, which was developed as a short video software of a commercial nature and has become a huge success, is its algorithms and technological imitations. Douyin’s recommender engine algorithms predict what is likely to be of interest to the user and push it with precision, In addition to video content even includes comments. Through pleasing algorithms, the platform hopes to increase user loyalty to the software, leading to lead conversions and higher profits for subsequent upgrades in more business practices.
Recommendation engine algorithms spin a cocoon around themselves
Before exploring whether recommendation algorithms have enabled users to passively enter what is known as the information cocoon, it is necessary to clarify what the propose of Internet for. According to Barry M. Leiner et al, the Internet is a medium that supports global and distance-independent mechanisms for the dissemination of information, facilitating collaboration and interaction between individuals and computers(1997). The Internet has enabled communication and convenience for people all over the world, and the essence of being used in life is to provide an avenue for the free flow of speech. Recommendation engine algorithms, on the other hand, block out a portion of that speech, even if that is of no interest to the user. Even if this is a private choice, it undeniably narrows the field of view. One of the more debatable points is that everything comes from Douyin’s predictions and filters, and users seem to be passive recipients. After all, users are simply spreading and liking their favourite content to be loaded into this algorithm.
In a part of the population’s view, the information cocoon is not real. This is a conclusion based on the information cluttering the Internet. According to Ververis et al.’s presentation of Internet principles, Internet content is in principle not allowed to interfere with network traffic. (2023)This clutter, even when used carefully, interfering information and data is still invisibly presented to the user. Thus a completely closed cocoon seems to be non-existent. In Hanqi Peng and Chang Liu in 2021, it is known that cocooning stems from the fact that people prefer to harvest information about supportive attitudes rather than conflicts, and that information-seeking bias is caused by biased seekers. It’s just that the cocoon of information is a big, invisible net that emerges based more on people’s curiosity about things that match their opinions, and algorithms are just an aid to fulfill people’s needs, and it seems that only a few people can escape completely from this big net.
The possibility of breaking out of the information cocoon
The breaking of the information cocoon is difficult, and a viable approach can be seen through Douyin. Because this effect comes from the algorithm’s analysis of a user’s long-term consumption preferences, regularly allowing users to choose whether to clean up their browsing records and hide their consumption preferences can alleviate this problem to a certain extent. Beyond that, trying to find more user voices is a good way to open up perspectives. For example, in the last few updates and optimizations to Douyin, users have been given the option to recommend videos to the homepages of users who follow each other through likes. This feature provides users with an additional source of information, as no two users’ consumption preferences are 100 percent the same.
Looking at the serious gender dichotomy under the Chinese Douyin comments reveals that the essence of the problem is caused by the fact that users’ consumption tendencies are penetrated by recommendation engine system algorithms. Recommendation engine algorithms create an information cocoon on social media, creating a cyber-safe space for users to see other opposing voices. This creates a lack of diversity online information. However ,the confusing internet data creates a tiny gap in the information cocoon. Hiding and information gaps through consumption tendencies offer the possibility of breaking the negative effects of the information cocoon, but it needs to be recognized that such a concentrated push of information perspectives reinforces the push effect.
How to mitigate the negative effects of information cocoon should become a research direction, and the diversity of sounds on the Internet is a great step forward in promoting the exchange of human civilization
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