User attitudes towards algorithmic opacity and transparency in online reviewing platforms

Motahhare Eslami, Kristen Vaccaro, Min Kyung Lee, Amit Elazari Bar On, Eric Gilbert, Karrie Karahalios

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Algorithms exert great power in curating online information, yet are often opaque in their operation, and even existence. Since opaque algorithms sometimes make biased or deceptive decisions, many have called for increased transparency. However, little is known about how users perceive and interact with potentially biased and deceptive opaque algorithms. What factors are associated with these perceptions, and how does adding transparency into algorithmic systems change user attitudes? To address these questions, we conducted two studies: 1) an analysis of 242 users’ online discussions about the Yelp review filtering algorithm and 2) an interview study with 15 Yelp users disclosing the algorithm’s existence via a tool. We found that users question or defend this algorithm and its opacity depending on their engagement with and personal gain from the algorithm. We also found adding transparency into the algorithm changed users’ attitudes towards the algorithm: users reported their intention to either write for the algorithm in future reviews or leave the platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2019
Event2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: May 4 2019May 9 2019

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Conference

Conference2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow
Period5/4/195/9/19

Keywords

  • Algorithmic opacity
  • Algorithm’s existence
  • Algorithm’s operation
  • Reviewing platforms
  • Transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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  • Cite this

    Eslami, M., Vaccaro, K., Lee, M. K., Bar On, A. E., Gilbert, E., & Karahalios, K. (2019). User attitudes towards algorithmic opacity and transparency in online reviewing platforms. In CHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300724