Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms


Cite this article as:
Courtney Radsch (17/12/2021). Optimization. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio.

Author: Courtney Radsch

Optimization refers to the practice or process of making something as effective, visible, functional, or efficient as possible. More specifically, search engine optimization refers to the practice of designing your website or page to increase the quantity, quality, or both, of organic, unpaid search results.

At the same time, optimization is a predominant organizing principle of digital systems that incorporate real-time feedback from users (Kulynick et al., 2018)1: for instance, ride-sharing applications such as Uber, which rely on optimization to decide on the pricing of rides; navigation applications such as Waze, which rely on optimization to propose best routes; banks, which rely on optimization to decide whether to grant a loan; and advertising networks, which rely on optimization to decide what is the best advertisement to show to a user.

As a solution to the potentially adverse effects from manipulation of individual behavior caused by optimization systems, some have proposed the adoption of specific measures to reduce or eliminate the emergence of such effects from the design stage (see e.g., Amodei et al., 20162). As an alternative, the concept of Protective Optimization Technologies has been proposed- i.e., technological solutions that those outside of the optimization system deploy to protect users and environments from the negative effects of optimization (Kulynick et al., 2018)3.


  1. Kulynich et al. (2018). Available at:
  2. Amodei et al. (2016). Available at:
  3. Kulynich et al. (2018). Available at:
Categorized as Entries

By Courtney Radsch

Courtney Radsch is an American Journalist. She holds a Ph.D. in international relations and is author of Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt: Digital Dissidence and Political Change. She has also worked as the advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists until 2021.

Leave a comment