How Facebook is like Fox News

One of the rules Facebook follows is to deliver us news stories based on what we read and like. While they likely use a variety of complex algorithms, the intent is obvious to any of those with a Facebook account: Like one story and then see others that simply reinforce that opinion.

They weren’t the first to use such rules. Amazon and Google uses a similar approach for advertising, where they exposed us to ads for products based on what we like.  Click on a shoe ad once or twice, and see shoe ads for weeks.

Facebook’s mistake is to take the same approach as Amazon, when the content is so different. While we want to see ads for products of interest, we don’t necessarily want to see news that reinforces what we read. In fact, by using their algorithms, they essentially filter out news that might be contrary, even when it comes from similar publications.

Facebook is purposely denying us different viewpoints, under the assumption we’ll hang around longer if they don’t show us anything that we might disagree with. Remenber, their goal is engaging us for a s long as possible.

By doing this they set the stage for fake news sites to step in and have a ready identifiable audience that’s predictable and manipulable. Those stories will go directly to those that already have seen similar stories and little else.

Facebook is taking us from an open discourse to conditioning us to see only a single viewpoint. Sounds a lot like Fox News.

by Phil Baker