Mediated trust: A theoretical framework to address the trustworthiness of technological trust mediators
This article of Balázs Bodó considers the impact of digital technologies on the interpersonal and institutional logics of trust production. It introduces the new theoretical concept of technology-mediated trust to analyze the role of complex techno-social assemblages in trust production and distrust management. The first part of the article argues that globalization and digitalization have unleashed a crisis of trust, as traditional institutional and interpersonal logics are not attuned to deal with the risks introduced by the prevalence of digital technologies. In the second part, the article describes how digital intermediation has transformed the traditional logics of interpersonal and institutional trust formation and created new trust-mediating services. Finally, the article asks as follows: why should we trust these technological trust mediators? The conclusion is that at best, it is impossible to establish the trustworthiness of trust mediators and that at worst, we have no reason to trust them.
“Trust and technology” promises to be one of the major themes of technology policy discussions in the coming years. While early on the question of trust emerged in the contexts of online anonymity, reputation, or e-commerce, at the beginning of the 2020s new issues are at stake. The prevalence of online misinformation, for example, has raised questions about the trustworthiness of digital news distributors. The weaponization of Internet services is forcing us to consider what the prerequisites of a trustworthy digital environment might be. In policy debates on platform regulation, some are questioning whether traditional regulatory frameworks can be trusted to address the challenges we face (Suzor, 2019; Van Dijck et al., 2019). Service providers routinely breach users’ trust by exposing their personal information when these providers get hacked, or by selling their data to third parties contrary to users’ expectations. Automated decision-making systems are being used to make increasingly consequential choices, raising the question of whether they can be trusted to act in fair, just, and transparent ways, or more generally in the interests of their users (Pasquale, 2015). Partly in response, blockchain technologies promise to replace seemingly untrustworthy intermediaries with a technological system designed to minimize the need for trust.
For the full article, see here.
TrustTalk interviewed Balász Bodó on November 15, 2020, listen to this interview here.
A transcript of the interview is added below. Do you want to download the full text: click here
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