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Dealing with Facebook’s Algorithm

HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer

Thursday, April 14, 2016



Dealing with Facebook’s Algorithm
Facebook

More than 50% of all adult Americans supposedly use Facebook. The Powers that Be at Facebook do not want us overwhelmed with every friend’s cute baby pictures, recipes or requests for hugs, so Facebook tweaks its users’ feeds by algorithm.

An algorithm is a formula, in Facebook’s case, used to predict posts that most interest a user according to an array of factors (that Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t shared with me yet), and puts those more desirable posts in the user’s news feed. Consequently, Facebook users do not see everything posted by our friends or by media, which is good and bad. It’s good because we’re not dazed by the sheer volume of information but it’s bad because it can shape our understanding of reality.

In late summer 2014, there was an uproar about Facebook’s allegedly highly manipulative algorithms, which led to Facebook’s own study and report. According to Facebook’s own study, basically stating that Facebook’s algorithm isn’t at fault for whatever harmful filters may exist.

Later researchers, most notably Christian Sandvig of Michigan University’s Center for Political Studies, concluded:
- that Facebook’s study used a very small, unrepresentative sample of users
- that the algorithm does alter political news by:
**setting the order of news feed posts and setting hard news to the bottom;
**cutting 5% of liberal-leaning articles in conservative users’ feeds; and
**cutting 8% of conservative-leaning articles in liberal users’ feeds.

In the United States’ highly charged and polarized political climate, where increasing numbers of Americans supposedly get their news from Facebook, those alterations can cause even greater political polarization.

How can you, as a Facebook user, counteract the undue influence of Facebook’s algorithm? First, since Facebook lists top stories ahead of most recent stories, you can change the feed to the most recent stories by clicking that option under “favorites” on the left-hand side of your Facebook screen.

Secondly, get away from Facebook and use another news source, such as the BBC.com, which has an interesting extra-American perspective and can be accessed here: http://www.bbc.com/

Third, review the news sources investigation by Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan source of news outlets preferred by liberals and by conservatives, to occasionally read news from the other side of the political aisle. Pew’s “Appendix C” can be accessed here: http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/appendix-c-the-news-sources/

Fourth, try the anti-algorithm methods proposed in tutorials such as this YouTube lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slWQGlxPnaM



DO’S AND DON’TS

DO change the feed to the most recent stories by clicking that option under “favorites” on the left-hand side of your Facebook screen.

DO get away from Facebook and use another news source, such as the BBC.com, which has an interesting extra-American perspective and can be accessed here: http://www.bbc.com/

DO review the news sources investigation by Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan source of news outlets preferred by liberals and by conservatives, to occasionally read news from the other side of the political aisle, accessible here: http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/appendix-c-the-news-sources/

DO try the anti-algorithm methods proposed in tutorials such as this YouTube lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slWQGlxPnaM


By Kathy Catanzarite


Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Handelonthelaw.com Writer

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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