Cover of Position Statement: Recommnedar systems and algorithms

The eSafety Commissioner releases new position statement on recommender systems and algorithms

Authors Kathy Nickels
Date 12 December 2022

Last week the eSafety Commissioner released their new Tech Trends Position statement: Recommender systems and algorithms

The position statement takes a holistic view of recommender systems that encompasses their benefits and risks, broader uses, and complex interconnected ecosystems.

It is stated that “it is important to assess recommender systems holistically, thinking about their benefits and risks, their range of uses and how they may influence or be influenced by the wider digital environment and socio-political developments”.

This paper provides useful advice for users and guidance for industry. For example it recommends that companies take a more proactive Safety By Design approach to recommender algorithms by considering the risks they may pose at the outset and designing in appropriate guardrails.

 This could include:

  • features that allow users to curate how a recommender system applies to them individually and opt out of receiving certain content
  • enforcing content policies to reduce the pool of harmful content on a platform, which reduces its potential amplification
  • labelling content as potentially harmful or hazardous
  • introducing human “circuit breakers” to review fast-moving content before it goes viral.

It also recommends enhancing transparency through regular algorithmic audits and impact assessments, curating recommendations so they are age appropriate, and introducing prompts to encourage users to reconsider posting harmful content.

This position paper acknowledges the contribution made by experts in sharing their insights on recommender systems with eSafety including ADM+S researchers:

Read the Position statement: Recommender systems and algorithm

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