Evaluating recommender systems in relation to illegal and harmful content

Research report

Website/link: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/online-research/evaluating-recommender-systems-in-relation-to-the-dissemination-of-illegal-and-harmful-content-in-the-uk

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Published date: July 6, 2023

Region: Global,Europe

Subject tag: Algorithmic systems | Child safety | Disinformation and misinformation | Harmful content | Illegal content | Recommender systems | Terrorism and violent extremism

Recommender systems are widely used on user-to-user services (U2U), helping people find the content they love while also helping creators find their audiences. In this way, recommender systems improve allocative efficiency in the digital marketplace, reducing the time and cost of matching creators with their audiences.

Yet, depending on how they are designed, recommender systems may disseminate illegal and harmful material, where that has not been detected and removed by content moderation procedures. As such, it is important that online services evaluate their recommender systems in a diligent way to uncover risks associated with certain design choices.

Ofcom commissioned Pattrn Analytics & Intelligence (Pattrn.AI) (affiliated with Oxford University) to examine possible methods for conducting such evaluations