‘The Algorithm Is Gonna Get You’ The acceleration of spoon-fed content

Written by Theo Smith

Theo is a Welsh Wizard. After leaving his Celtic land he set out on a journey to help organisations attract more talent. This has included global executive search, RPO, in-house and recruitment marketing. He now talks on a wide variety of recruitment related subjects. He is also the podcast host for Neurodiversity – Eliminating Kryptonite & Enabling Superheroes

We’re walking blindly into Wachowskis the Matrix combined with the essence of George Orwell’s 1984.

This has been a subject that has been in my thoughts for some time. After recently watching Adam Gordons presentation online that he did at an IHR event on Vital Concepts and Powerful Tactics in Recruitment Marketing, it’s enthused me to put pen to paper!

If we look back in time. What used to happen with the consumption of news and information is that we’d be directed by the opinions and views of others.

So not much changed there, right?

Newspapers, writers, reporters etc… the world over have written and communicated with both a conscious and unconscious bias, politically, economically and socially.

Our social circles would also have potentially emulated our personal opinions and belief systems and therefore further validated our views.

But, and here’s the thing, our lives would still be littered with opportunities for opposing views and that is where you create the middle ground, the liberalism or central viewpoint!

Now, times are a changing and fast…

‘The Algorithm Is Gonna Get You’

Algorithms, machine learning, clever marketing techniques are shifting the way we access information and more importantly the way it’s delivered to us.

Google have been the pioneers in user focused generated content based on key words. Basically, google wants to give you the most accurate results for your search.

Or even better than that, second guess what it is you really want, but that your struggling to communicate effectively.


I try to miss-spell Bureaucracy in word


Word suggests:

Necrocracy OR Plutocracy (interesting choices!)

Why? Because they are the most similar sounding words to my miss spelt word.

Google on the other hand when I put in ‘Beurocracy’ understands me immediately



Because Google’s ‘machine learning’ or AI Hamster is doing its job at spinning that wheel. It knows that dyslexic people like me and probably a lot of the rest of you might miss-spell Bureaucracy in this way. So, it alleviates me of the pain and gives me exactly what it knows I actually want to see.

This is great right? You always get fed the most accurate results, saving you all that time and energy!

Well sure it’s great for my spelling and it’s the first place I go when I’m struggling with a word, but in the wrong hands or with the wrong focus it can have a potential negative impact.

But let’s just face facts, it doesn’t like recruiters!

Searches on Google related to ‘recruiters are’

And that’s the problem it’s not interested in challenging your views or perceptions.

What about ‘Recruiters are’ central to organisational performance and success 😉

Spoon-fed your own excrement

There has been a lot of discussion over recent years about the misuse of personal data.

Cambridge Analytica famously closed its doors after being caught misusing data on Facebook as part of its marketing strategies. They ultimatley influenced world politics and in my humble opinion, not for the better!

But that’s only the half of it.

What’s happening now has gone to new levels. Facebook, the place, like it or not, where a lot of us still log into on a regular basis, through its clever algorithms and technology, is providing you with what you like… a lot!

This means we are no longer seeing the things that challenge our thinking and perception. The things that make us question our own values and belief system; it’s actually tailoring what we see to the point where we see nothing else.

Now you can try and work the system by purposely seeking out and liking a variety of content, but most of us are just liking the stuff we’re compelled to like and feel most passionate about.

Basically, it knows our favourite food is Pizza, Steak, Lasagne and vanilla ice cream (Not all together!), so it just keeps feeding us it. It may change the recipe to see if they can improve our enjoyment of it, but that’s about it.

They may even mix it up so you’re not always getting pizza and ultimately get bored of it. But there is no chance you’re going to have your taste buds seriously challenged.

So how do I know this?

Well first; the mighty user case of ME 😉

I have particular political beliefs, and I believe in remaining in the European Union or at the very least the EU Customs Union with freedom of movement.

Facebook knows this and continues to pump pro remain content at me. So much so I never ever see anything that is negative towards remaining unless it’s somebody else commenting on it.

This is not good for my health because I become loaded up with a one-sided view, based on one sided facts.

It’s like just reading the Telegraph!

But this isn’t just about me, we can see from the polarization in politics, that this is happening the world over and it’s having a significant impact on the leaders we’re selecting and their political views and ambitions.

We seem to be struggling to find the middle ground, there is a lack of real debate on very important socio-economic subjects.

The filter bubble

But this isn’t a new thing, to my surprise Eli Pariser was talking about this back in 2011 and yet we’ve not moved on. Even bigger surprise actually, I believe we’re going even further the other direction.

You only have to look at what has happened since 2011 to know that those bubbles seem to be getting bigger and more biased.

Eli talks about Facebook and Google needing to give control back to the user to ensure they can select what information is being shared with them, but that has yet to happen in a meaningful way.

And is Linkedin now following the same path?

The recruitment filter bubble

Google for Jobs and Facebook recruiting have both been born  in the last couple of years, so we can no longer sit on the sidelines in wonder. This now directly impacts recruitment in a potentially big way.

How do we ensure that this doesn’t creep into our recruitment marketing efforts and that we ensure candidates receive the best experience possible.

How do we also as professionals ensure we don’t fall foul to spoon fed content and we fight against the algorithm to ensure we our challenging our thinking and accessing information, knowledge from a wide variety of sources?

Because the workforce of the future needs to be Neurodiverse and to achieve that we need to broaden our thinking rather than allow the bots to filter out what it believes we don’t want to hear.

User experience should not be defined by the users own views and perceptions being perpetuated on a loop!

To quote what I wrote on Adam’s post:

We are in danger of being spoon fed what the algorithms or machines think we want and need based on past evidence and hence we become so silo’d in our thinking and understanding of the world, that we inhibit natural cognitive development through curiosity and exploration

As humans we need our brains and thinking to be constantly challenged and with all the wonders that technology will bring, let’s not give up the development and enhancement of our thinking, when it’s the one thing society needs most.


Here’s Eli in 2011 doing his thing (9min)

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