Meghan Dowell

Researcher, librarian, doctoral candidate

Information policy researcher and former academic librarian where my main focus was instruction and reference and my specialty was teaching students to write literature reviews.

Pursuing a Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies. My dissertation focuses on user awareness of algorithmic filtering on Google, YouTube, and Facebook; and builds on my years of work as an academic librarian working with undergraduate and graduate students. These platforms are dominant and problematic in their impact. The evidence of digital platform companies as bad actors is deep from Google’s racist and oppressive algorithms to Twitter’s inconsistency of policy enforcement. Utilizing a mixed methods design, I analyzed the privacy policies of three major platforms for how they inform users of their algorithmic filtering practices; then surveyed the users of these platforms to learn their understanding of how their personal data is filtering their content. The final dissertation has practical contributions to media literacy practitioners and policy makers. The theoretical contribution is broadening the use of black box theory from explanatory to exploratory.