Document Type


Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


In this commentary, the author considers the rise of algorithmic personalization and the power of propaganda as they shift the dynamic landscape of 21st‐century literacy research and practice. Algorithmic personalization uses data from the behaviors, beliefs, interests, and emotions of the target audience to provide filtered digital content, targeted advertising, and differential product pricing to online users. As persuasive genres, advertising and propaganda may demand different types of reading practices than texts whose purpose is primarily informational or argumentative. Understanding the propaganda function of algorithmic personalization may lead to a deeper consideration of texts that activate emotion and tap into audience values for aesthetic, commercial, and political purposes. Increased attention to algorithmic personalization, propaganda, and persuasion in the context of K–12 literacy education may also help people cope with sponsored content, bots, and other forms of propaganda and persuasion that now circulate online.