noun – a computer program that analyzes what you do on a platform and uses that information to control what happens while you are on the platform, guiding you on a specific path. The path it guides you on is determined by the person who controls and programs the algorithm, usually the platform creator.
This is like a platform rule that is alive and autonomous, set loose on users by the people who program it. It is actively taking in new information and actively crafting and changing your experience based on how your information interfaces with the algorithm’s objective or goal.
Algorithms help platform creators achieve certain objectives by manipulating the experience of the user in a way that produces the desired outcome. The top objectives at tech companies are for your attention (a fixed resource on a single timeline) and your money. Desired algorithm outcomes tend to be 1. increased user time spent on the platform and 2. users being more receptive to platform advertisers and more likely to spend money on the platform.