Facebook recently announced another big change to the way your Facebook feed will show you information. Facebook says that they are changing their sophisticated feed algorithm yet again and this time they’re tweaking it so that you’ll see more posts from friends and family and less posts from businesses and organizations.
I suppose this change is a good thing. Facebook certainly thinks it is and they will always do whatever they can to keep your attention glued to your feed. So it seems you’ll have less news about celebrities and more news about your aunt coming your way very soon.
The bigger issue, and one that isn’t discussed enough, is just how much influence and impact Facebook has on what people see. With over 1.6 billion users, Facebook controls an enormous number of eyeballs and they can steer those eyeballs wherever they like.
Most people think of Facebook as a social platform but really it’s a news platform. They carry social news about your friends and family to be sure but they also carry company news and even world news. In fact, recent studies show that the vast majority of people now get their news from social media instead of traditional media outlets.
This all means that Facebook gets to choose what you see, and know, and they’re taking full advantage of that power. In fact, they intentionally push some things towards you, while burying other things to hide them from you. They are in a very real way censoring what you see.
This is all the more concerning when you realize that some former employees of Facebook recently revealed that they routinely and intentionally hid certain news items from appearing in the trending section; effectively suppressing any news that did not line up with the ideology of their choosing. No matter what your political viewpoint is, this should be alarming. And, Facebook has no accountability in this matter whatsoever. They just do whatever they choose to do.
What’s the solution to having your news filtered by a large corporation with a certain ideological bent? You and I must intentionally seek out news from multiple sources. We must look beyond just what’s trending on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms and be as well informed as we can reasonably be. We must strive to educate ourselves and look beyond what’s being shoved at us. This will rob Facebook of it’s power and, more importantly, it will help us to understand the world around us a bit better in the process.