How to Tame "Your" Algorithm Journal Article uri icon



  • As our social worlds increasingly shift online, many of the technologies people encounter are mediated by algorithms. Algorithms have become deeply embedded into people's online lives, often working to tailor and personalize their routine encounters with the world. How does one domesticate, or make one's own, an algorithmic system? One of the goals as people adopt new technologies is to weave them into their everyday routines, establishing a pattern of use in order to make that technology their own. In this paper we focus on people's experiences domesticating the short-form video sharing application, TikTok. Through an interview study with 16 LGBTQ+ TikTok users, we explore how people's routine experiences with TikTok's For You Page algorithm influence and inform their domestication process. We first highlight people's motivations for adopting TikTok and the challenges they encounter in this initial acquisition phase of domestication. After adopting the platform, we discuss the challenges people experience across the final three phases of domestication: objectification, incorporation, and conversion. We find that though they enjoy TikTok, our participants feel that they are never fully able to domesticate TikTok. As they are never able to fully control their digital selves, and thus integrate it into their routine lives, TikTok is in constant misalignment with their personal moral economy. We discuss the implications of domesticating algorithmic systems, examining the questions of whose values shape the moral economy created by and through people's uses of algorithmic systems, and the impact of nostalgia on the domestication process.

publication date

  • January 14, 2022

has restriction

  • bronze

Date in CU Experts

  • January 30, 2022 11:08 AM

Full Author List

  • Simpson E; Hamann A; Semaan B

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2573-0142

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 27


  • 6