Ageism in the era of digital platforms

Convergence (Lond). 2020 Dec;26(5-6):1074-1087. doi: 10.1177/1354856520930905. Epub 2020 Jun 25.


Ageism is the most invisible form of discrimination. While there is some awareness of gender, racial, and socioeconomic discrimination on digital platforms, ageism has received less attention. This article analyzes some tools that are frequently embedded on digital platforms from an old-age perspective, in order to increase awareness of the different ways in which ageism works. We will firstly look at how innovation teams, following homophilic patterns, disregard older people. Secondly, we will show how ageism tends to be amplified by the methods often used on digital platforms. And thirdly, we will show how corporate values contradict the usability issues that mainly affect people with a low level of (digital) skills, which is more common among older people. Counterbalancing the abusive power control of the corporations behind digital platforms and compensating for the underrepresentation of groups in less favorable situations could help to tackle such discrimination.

Keywords: Ageism; big data; digital divide; digital minorities; digital platforms; discrimination; older people; usability.