Facebook alarmed at discovering it may have built a right wing echo chamber?

lizkat

Deep deep blue
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
5,906
Reaction score
12,527
Location
Catskill Mountains
This is a pretty good read. Turns out that when it comes to news feeds and such, Facebook starts looking more and more like a right wing silo... and how that came to light was by way of journalists using analytical tools that Facebook itself had provided when pressured to be more transparent. Oops.


There are some related tweets embedded in the piece (and doubtless more forthcoming thanks to Kevin Roose of the NYT having got some attention on Twitter today).

Anyway, this one's just a sample

 

Chew Toy McCoy

Pleb
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
5,785
Reaction score
8,822
I think a good experiment on a better social media service would be making it so you can't post links to external content. All you can do is communicate with each other and post pictures and videos directly to the site, and the service wouldn't partner with or post news content. It would be for all the people who say "I just use it to keep in contact with friends and family".
 

hulugu

Site Champ
Posts
461
Reaction score
1,400
Location
the wilds
Facebook represents a masive problem for journalism and until the company decides to be a referee on content—i.e. making choices about real news versus bullshit—we're fucked.

Local news was encouraged to use Facebook to increase engagement, and now the site is intentionally downplaying local news in favor of more personal shares.

But, it's clear that this has just helped highly-shared garbage from right-wing wing-dings, while local news gets deprecated. Facebook has to weigh in, and playing at the sidelines ain't going to work anymore.
 

SuperMatt

Site Master
Posts
7,690
Reaction score
14,520
Facebook represents a masive problem for journalism and until the company decides to be a referee on content—i.e. making choices about real news versus bullshit—we're fucked.

Local news was encouraged to use Facebook to increase engagement, and now the site is intentionally downplaying local news in favor of more personal shares.

But, it's clear that this has just helped highly-shared garbage from right-wing wing-dings, while local news gets deprecated. Facebook has to weigh in, and playing at the sidelines ain't going to work anymore.
I used to tell people to just quit Facebook. Now I am realizing that telling them that is no better than telling a heroin addict to just quit using. It’s designed to be addictive. Either the government or Facebook itself will need to act to fix things IMHO.
 

hulugu

Site Champ
Posts
461
Reaction score
1,400
Location
the wilds
I used to tell people to just quit Facebook. Now I am realizing that telling them that is no better than telling a heroin addict to just quit using. It’s designed to be addictive. Either the government or Facebook itself will need to act to fix things IMHO.

I'd avoid the site entirely if it wasn't for work. The site is designed to be a pile of distracting garbage.

Facebook has to decide to weigh in. Truth matters, and just allowing obvious lies to permeate the site is bad of all of us. YouTube has the same problem.

They don't care, because the business model of eyeballs and clicks is entirely built around just feeding people garbage, the news equivalent of Cheetos. People don't want spinach, and they certainly don't want to read a 2,000 piece that lays out complex issues. They want quick videos and stories that get their amygdala fired up.
 

Thomas Veil

Suspended
Posts
3,450
Reaction score
6,796
I think a good experiment on a better social media service would be making it so you can't post links to external content. All you can do is communicate with each other and post pictures and videos directly to the site, and the service wouldn't partner with or post news content. It would be for all the people who say "I just use it to keep in contact with friends and family".
This. A large part of the country seems to use FB as their primary news source, as well as to post links to crazy memes and lying YouTube videos. It’s a great tool for propagandists and demagogues. I would even go so far as to call its policy of allowing such content a national security risk. But no, we’re not worried about that. We’re worried about it being a monopoly or “unfair” to right-wing bomb throwers. 🙄
 

SuperMatt

Site Master
Posts
7,690
Reaction score
14,520
Before Facebook was famous, a cousin visited from far away for a few weeks. After returning home, a link to photos from the trip was sent to me. I had to sign up for an account to see them. I did so, then completely forgot about it. Fast forward a year or two and I started getting these annoying emails saying that somebody I briefly worked with years ago suddenly wants to be my “friend”! Well, I didn’t want to be rude to this person, so instead of saying no, I just deleted the account.

I’m guessing others got roped in this way, saying “ok guy who loaned me a stapler at work 10 years ago, I’ll be your friend…” Next thing you know, they’re having extreme propaganda burned into their retinas every single day.
 

Herdfan

Resident Redneck
Vaccinated
Posts
2,901
Reaction score
2,202
Facebook has to decide to weigh in. Truth matters, and just allowing obvious lies to permeate the site is bad of all of us. YouTube has the same problem.

How does youtube have this problem? Granted, all I ever use it for is to watch videos on how to fix stuff or reviews of stuff I might want to buy. But I have never just scrolled content.

So is it just videos of people talking about issues?
 

lizkat

Deep deep blue
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
5,906
Reaction score
12,527
Location
Catskill Mountains
I'd avoid the site entirely if it wasn't for work. The site is designed to be a pile of distracting garbage.

Facebook has to decide to weigh in. Truth matters, and just allowing obvious lies to permeate the site is bad of all of us. YouTube has the same problem.

They don't care, because the business model of eyeballs and clicks is entirely built around just feeding people garbage, the news equivalent of Cheetos. People don't want spinach, and they certainly don't want to read a 2,000 piece that lays out complex issues. They want quick videos and stories that get their amygdala fired up.

I prefer Twitter because I can pretty much set it up to focus on media outlets that I sub to --and so can use one or another of their tweets as launch points into my subscription, since they often tweet links to their long reads or to the next piece in a featured series. And then I also follow a few organizations and (temporarily) certain hashtags or a handful of reporters on topical issues.

Still I do get annoyed over Twitter's habit of trying to expand my resulting timeline by inserting posts that have received likes from accounts I follow. I might want to follow a certain journo but I don't care to find tweets from people he follows in my own timeline just because the journo liked them. There are a lot of ways to tweak what ends up in one's timeline, but that one's a pain in the brain to manage, and my usual way when I get exasperated is to just go on a rampage of unfollowing dozens of accounts to cut off those added tweets at their sources. The list I keep for media outliets is just a set of homepage accounts so I don't inadvertently discard all references to something I subscribe to when I get annoyed and start ditching follows of specific journalists or subsections of an online newspaper or magazine. Anyway I like to follow fewer than 200 accounts all told, so it doesn't take very long to scroll through the timeline when I check in.

But Facebook...hell no. I had an account for like 10 days or 2 weeks, about ten years ago. First time they put up a notice of update to their privacy policy, I actually read the whole thing... and promptly deleted my account. And back then they were just barely getting started at trying to hook us all into some kind of always-on relationship to their platform. There's no way I'd open a Facebook setup now.
 

Edd

It’s all in the reflexes
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
1,626
Reaction score
2,394
Location
New Hampshire
Still I do get annoyed over Twitter's habit of trying to expand my resulting timeline by inserting posts that have received likes from accounts I follow. I might want to follow a certain journo but I don't care to find tweets from people he follows in my own timeline just because the journo liked them.
Yes, I’ve been on Twitter for years but my usage is a fraction of what it was. At one point, I created a new account to get rid of everyone I was following and then followed the best 10 accounts I could think of. Within a month, the feed swells to a degree that I can’t finish all the tweets and threads in under 10 minutes.

Instagram (though Facebook owned) is better because I can read through my follows and THEN all the extra crap is under that. I’m fine with that, much easier to ignore.
 

Huntn

Whatwerewe talk'n about?
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
4,224
Reaction score
4,209
Location
The Misty Mountains
I've been off for years - wife's still there though although I have at least weaned her off the app and using Brave Browser for ONLY facebook and no other web surfing whatsoever.

I despise FB with an absolute vengence.
I quit FB several years ago. Daily contact with family members was not all it was cracked up to be. 👀
 

SuperMatt

Site Master
Posts
7,690
Reaction score
14,520
I deleted Facebook. Best decision ever. People who I care enough to keep up with have my number and email. They know how to reach me :)

And yes, I noticed a big drop in screen time usage.
And if you’re not close enough with somebody to share your email and/or phone number with them, they’re not a really friend even if Facebook labels them as one.
 

lizkat

Deep deep blue
Vaccinated
Site Donor
Posts
5,906
Reaction score
12,527
Location
Catskill Mountains
I deleted Facebook. Best decision ever. People who I care enough to keep up with have my number and email. They know how to reach me :)

And yes, I noticed a big drop in screen time usage.

Too much screen time.... is still a trigger for me to go in and prune my Twitter follows yet again... so I can get in and out of there and my newspapers inside of an hour, with a few long reads saved for reading later or on weekends.
 

hulugu

Site Champ
Posts
461
Reaction score
1,400
Location
the wilds
How does youtube have this problem? Granted, all I ever use it for is to watch videos on how to fix stuff or reviews of stuff I might want to buy. But I have never just scrolled content.

So is it just videos of people talking about issues?

Except for the occasional video—our newsroom was passing around an old SNL skit on Friday—I don't really use YouTube. I did watch one this weekend to figure out how to fix the regulator on my wife's car, so the rear passenger window goes up and down again.

But, the site has real problems, including problems with disturbing videos being shown to kids, right-wing extremism, and anti-vaccination nonsense. And, even the regular stuff is mostly idiotic. My son can watch a certain amount of videos per day, and they're all unbelievably dumb.

YouTube seems more invested than Facebook in shutting stuff down either by removing it entirely or "de-monetizing" videos, but fundamentally the site struggles to deal with thousands of bad actors putting up millions of hours of lies, nonsense, and violence.

I also suspect that the way that many videos are structured, using documentary formats to gin up personal grievances and tinpot opinions, tends to give credence to stuff that we'd otherwise ignore if it was just some dude on a street corner.
 
Last edited:

hulugu

Site Champ
Posts
461
Reaction score
1,400
Location
the wilds
And if you’re not close enough with somebody to share your email and/or phone number with them, they’re not a really friend even if Facebook labels them as one.

I have multiple Facebook accounts for this very reason. I have my personal account for real friends and family. I have an account for acquaintances, business colleagues, and politicos. And, then I have an account that exists as a listening post for Republican politicians, right-wing demagogues, and various militia groups.
 
Top Bottom