In FYP We Trust: The Divine Force of Algorithmic Conspirituality

Kelley Cotter, Julia R. Decook, Shaheen Kanthawala, Kali Foyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, we introduce the concept of algorithmic conspirituality to capture occasions when people find personal, often revelatory connections to content algorithmically recommended to them on social media and explain these connections as a kind of algorithmically mediated cosmic intervention. The phenomenon emerges from three particular developments: an epistemological shift that has positioned algorithms as important tools for self-knowledge; the sublime quality that algorithms have acquired, which primes users to imagine them as providential; and the rise of conspirituality (a portmanteau of conspiracy and spirituality). In conceptualizing algorithmic conspirituality, we particularly focus on TikTok, where the platform’s For You Page algorithm shapes users’ experience to an even greater degree than other platforms. We illustrate the concept through three example TikTok videos and conclude with a discussion and recommendations on future research agendas using algorithmic conspirituality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2911-2934
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Volume16
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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