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Articles, Tech

Algorithms Can and Should Bridge Divides in Society

By Andrew Arida

Can algorithmic social feeds bring us together—instead of pull us apart?

Can we drive results in the “attention economy,” and still build a better society?

Absolutely they can. Here’s the proof.

Late last year in Neiman Lab, Luke Thoburn and Aviv Ovadya analyzed documents leaked from Meta in 2021 by Frances Haugen. Their piece tells a different story about social media algorithms than the one you might normally hear. Thoburn and Ovadya show that social platforms have tested “bridge-building” algorithms—and that the results were promising.

In short, Meta tried boosting comments that were well-received by people with diverse beliefs. The results showed these comments “were found to be of higher quality, and ‘much less likely’ to be reported for bullying, hate or inciting violence.” Yet, US elections are right around the corner and social feeds are filling up, once again, with divisive content and conversations. 


At OpenWeb, we’ve shown that platforms can win revenue and engagement in the “attention economy” by prioritizing more thoughtful, healthier, and less polarizing conversations. Our “Best” sorting algorithm, launched in 2022, showed this. And we were proven right: engagement across our network of more than 150 million monthly active users has only grown since.

A healthier web and a better society are right at our fingertips. Proof that we can drive profit and build a better society at the same time is all around us. 

So, why aren’t our “digital public squares” taking action?

OpenWeb aims to make the internet a better and safer place for everyone — people, content creators, and advertisers alike. We believe that the media can build empathy, respect, and understanding. And that tech companies should help make that happen by investing in innovations that make a better web.

Let’s have a conversation.

Right now OpenWeb has a limited number of partners we can work with in order to provide the highest quality service to each and every one. Let us know you’re interested and stay informed about how OpenWeb is empowering publishers and advertisers to change online conversations for good.