Facebook builds a bubble around you
Fereico Nejrotti reports at Motherboard:
Hi there. If you’re reading this piece, consider yourself lucky. Don’t take it for granted. Especially if you’re like the 62 percent of American adults who get their news from social media, as a recent Pew Research poll showed, and you usually find our posts on Facebook.
Facebook announced earlier this week that it will change the algorithm used to decide what every single user sees on their timeline. “Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family,” Lars Backstrom, engineering director at Facebook, said in a statement. “Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.”
Now, why we should care about this announcement, and how are the first two paragraphs of this piece related?
The changes announced by Facebook will mainly impact one of the most important values for Facebook’s brand and publisher-owned pages: “reach.” This value shows how many users will be shown a certain post. In other words, how many users see that single update on their timeline.
Worse and worse
This premise takes us to the point. The condition created by this policy is often called a “filter bubble.”
Social networks that use algorithms to define which updates are most relevant for their users tends to gradually supply the users with things that align with their established interests and opinions.
Take the recent media boom about Brexit, the controversial vote in the UK over whether to leave the European Union.
One pro-“Remain” Facebook user explained how hard has been for him to find posts from the opposing side. On the day the “Leave” campaign won, he looked for Facebook posts celebrating for the win—and came up short.
It wasn’t only about his News Feed list: He also tried to use the Facebook search function, also to no avail. It wasn’t that there were no posts about how great the Leave victory was. It was that Facebook, having identified him as a Remain voter, just wasn’t allowing him to see them.
It’s not just the opinions expressed in posts, but also where they’re coming from. Facebook has a double interest here: On one side, it needs to be able to charge publishers money who want more exposure. On the other, it needs to boost the number of user interactions on the social network. . .
Frightening. It reminds me of the masses being fed soma in Brave New World.
Facebook hides from you an entire world of opinions and outlooks that differ from your own. That is unhealthy, mentally, spiritually, ethically, morally, and probably in some other ways. Not illegal, though, so they will continue to do it.