Imagine the surface of Internet as a representation of its potential activity. In the early years of Internet, its architecture was distributed, users published their own personal home pages and had a decentralized occupation of the space. Today, most of the activity is concentrated in the hands of a few players. Google for instance offers numerous services that extend beyond the search engine service (email, social network, browser, etc.).
These heavyweight players have dug into the Web surface, dragging activities down their slopes, activities that could have remained independent and decentralized. Instead of creating a new webpage, Internet professional and private users tend to go for a Facebook page and therefore open content hosted on the slope of a dominant curve. The question now is whether all Web activity will eventually be hosted solely on “the slopes” of a few leading players.
— Louise Drulhe, Critical Atlas of Internet (https://louisedrulhe.fr/internet-atlas/)
Nevertheless, many of these models
encoded human prejudice, misunderstanding, and bias into the software
systems that increasingly managed our lives. Like gods, these mathemati-
cal models were opaque, their workings invisible to all but the highest
priests in their domain: mathematicians and computer scientists. Their
verdicts, even when wrong or harmful, were beyond dispute or appeal.
And they tended to punish the poor and the oppressed in our society,
while making the rich richer.7
algorithmic oppression is not just a glitch in the system but, rather, is fundamental to the operating system of the web.