Algorithmic Personalization, Human Rights and Individual/Collective Digital Memory Legislation

Makhortykh, Mykola; Bastian, Mariella (21 February 2020). Algorithmic Personalization, Human Rights and Individual/Collective Digital Memory Legislation (Unpublished). In: Critical Thinking on Memory and Human Rights Second Annual Workshop. Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 20.02.-21.02.2020.

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The emergence of the unprecedented volume of digital data and the deployment of AI-driven systems for their processing has significant implications for individual and collective remembrance. By enabling new ways of producing and storing mnemonic traces, these technological changes lead to the formation of "post-scarcity" (Hoskins 2014) culture characterized by pervasiveness and abundance of memory-related content. This shift revolutionizes the ways individuals and societies deal with the past, but also raises numerous concerns related to the need for dealing with “memory overload” and controlling the distribution of private/unwanted memories.

Many of these concerns are located at the intersection of human rights and memory. An illustrative example is the right to be forgotten, which recognizes the need for control over individual memory traces, in particular considering their relationship with the right to identity. However, the digital turn has implications not only for the protection of individual memory rights, but also for the regulation of collective remembrance. An example is the application of memory laws such as Russian Law against the rehabilitation of Nazism to the reinforcement of hegemonic memory narratives in digital environments.

In our paper, we examine one particular aspect of digital memory turn, namely the increasing personalization of memory-related content distribution via algorithmic systems (e.g. search engines). Algorithmic personalization takes into consideration individual preferences and contextual cues to automatically retrieve content viewed the most relevant for the user. Despite its importance for dealing with information overload, personalization raises multiple questions about user agency and the transparency of automated decision-making. To conceptualize its possible effects on human rights in the context of remembrance, we critically review legal acts dealing with (digital) individual/collective memory (e.g. GDPR or memory laws in post-socialist countries) and ask to what degree they account for the role of algorithmic content distribution.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Communication and Media Studies (ICMB)

UniBE Contributor:

Makhortykh, Mykola


000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
000 Computer science, knowledge & systems > 070 News media, journalism & publishing
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Mykola Makhortykh

Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2020 16:24

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:37

Uncontrolled Keywords:

legislation, algorithms, memory laws, personalization, platforms


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