Alan Wolk, writing in Forbes has presented some compelling arguments for why Facebook’s dramatic algorithm change to produce more results in your feed from your family and friends will have the opposite effect it was intended to have.
It will perpetuate even more spreading of fake news AND create even more acute divisions as it produced smaller and smaller echo chambers.
The ascendency of the Facebook News Feed as the primary news source for many Americans was a disaster, and to their credit, the Facebook team set out to correct that last week. But their plan, to emphasize stories that a user’s friends have shared, stories that receive a lot of “engagement” (Likes and comments) seems destined to have the opposite effect, promoting fake news and untrustworthy outlets while increasing the effects of the echo chamber……
The first thing many observers (myself included) thought upon reading Facebook’s new guidelines, is that the reason there’s so much fake news and cat videoage in the News Feed is because that is exactly what people share and Like and comment on…….
The greatest danger of Facebook’s new News Feed however, is that it only serves to strengthen the echo chamber effect.
If you are an affluent coastal liberal, then odds are pretty high that your friends are also affluent coastal liberals, and thus your Facebook feed will consist of stories your friends have shared about the perfidy of President Trump and the Republican party. The more strident those stories are, the more “engagement” they’ll get under the new system, the more they’ll show up in your new News Feed. Whereas you might previously have been exposed to stories from the Wall Street Journal or National Review offering an alternative POV, you’ll no longer see those. Ditto conservatives who will no longer see stories from the New York Times or Washington Post.
And so we’ll all be locked inside our own little echo chambers, where the only news we’ll see is news we already agree with, a state of affairs that benefits absolutely no one.
Worse still, many publishers will likely resort to the old bait and switch to build traffic: a Facebook-only headline that’s far more over the top and strident than the article itself, because they know that most people don’t read beyond the headline before they hit “Like.”…..