Facebook Controls Users News Media
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
Facebook, the social networking service launched 11 years ago, is deliberately becoming the intermediary of information read by its members.
Though the site began as a simple online place for chatting and sharing pictures, Facebook had a greater plan to become a source of news. Apparently it succeeded.
According to 2015 research by the Pew Research Center in conjunction with the Knight Foundation, 66% of Americans are Facebook members and 63% of those members report getting their news from Facebook by finding and reading articles.
Members’ heavy reliance on Facebook as a news source is significant, as Facebook controls the information a member receives in several ways. First, Facebook uses an algorithm to choose posts it thinks you will most probably read and filter out posts it thinks you will not enjoy. Secondly, much of the news found via Facebook’s sidebar newsfeed is hosted within Facebook, as news sources such as The New York Times and NBC news began publishing directly to “Facebook Instant” as of mid-May 2015. Consequently, reliance on Facebook for content including news effectively censors the information you will be able to read and deprives you of information eliminated by its algorithm.
One tool giving some control back to the user is Facebook’s “News Feed Update,” which allows the member to select certain friends and pages to rank whatever appears at the top of his/her Facebook news feed. It might seem like a small step but it is noteworthy in that it gives the member greater control over the content he/she will read on Facebook.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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