Algorithmic Personalization and the Two-Step Flow of Communication

Oren Soffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the relevance of traditional mass communication's two-step flowof- communication theory in relation to algorithmic personalization. I compare the two-step flow theory's concept of personalized content through opinion leaders with the current notion of personalized algorithms, arguing that opinion leaders and algorithms both function as gatekeeping agents. I also discuss the nature and role of peer groups in the two cases, arguing that while in the original theory, groups were seen as relatively solid (family, friends, and work colleagues), groups in the algorithmic era are much more liquid, transforming according to data inputs and users' behavior. Finally, the article also considers differences in the source of authority of opinion leaders and algorithms in both eras, as well as the different social settings and public awareness in the second step of the communication flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-315
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Algorithms
  • Digital Culture
  • Two Step Flow


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