@inproceedings{register2023attachedalgorithm, author = {Register, Yim and Qin, Lucy and Baughan, Amanda and Spiro, Emma S.}, title = {Attached to “The Algorithm”: Making Sense of Algorithmic Precarity on Instagram}, year = {2023}, isbn = {9781450394215}, publisher = {Association for Computing Machinery}, address = {New York, NY, USA}, url = {https://doi.org/10.1145/3544548.3581257}, doi = {10.1145/3544548.3581257}, abstract = {This work explores how users navigate the opaque and ever-changing algorithmic processes that dictate visibility on Instagram through the lens of Attachment Theory. We conducted thematic analysis on 1,100 posts and comments on r/Instagram to understand how users engage in collective sensemaking with regards to Instagram’s algorithms, user-perceived punishments, and strategies to counteract algorithmic precarity. We found that the unpredictability in how Instagram rewards or punishes a user can lead to distress, hypervigilance, and a need to appease “the algorithm’’. We therefore frame these findings through Attachment Theory, drawing upon the metaphor of Instagram as an unreliable paternalistic figure that inconsistently rewards users [74]. User experiences are then contextualized through the lens of anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure attachment. We conclude by making suggestions for fostering secure attachment towards the Instagram algorithm, by suggesting potential strategies to help users successfully cope with uncertainty.}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems}, articleno = {563}, numpages = {15}, keywords = {thematic analysis, social media algorithms, content moderation, algorithmic precarity, Attachment Theory, social media and mental health, folk theorization, Instagram, algorithmic transparency}, location = {Hamburg, Germany}, series = {CHI '23} }