By: Sarah Copeland
How controlling do you think social media is over us as we get online? I am sure most of the population does not know or simply does not care. As long as we get to use social media and stay in contact it really does not matter, right? I wouldn’t be so sure. Social media has gotten pretty creepy over the past few years.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. Have you ever noticed that you only usually see the posts from certain groups of people, groups or pages all the time? Even with well over a hundred friends, you still rarely see their posts. But that isn’t because they aren’t posting anything. It’s because of something called algorithms.
Facebook, back when it first started out, used to be timeline based as it moved chronologically through posts as you scrolled down. Users got to choose whose posts they paid attention to and who they replied to with comments. Now, Facebook is deciding for us what we want to read.
If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that the advertisements that have taken over your news feed have gotten more and more accurate and aligned to your preferences. God forbid you look up apartment complexes to help a friend find a new place because you will get an endless stream of real estate on your feed. (Yes, this did happen and it lasted for a month.) How creepy is that? Facebook can track what you look up on the Internet!
Facebook’s algorithm is designed to analyze you. Even though it does this to provide you with content that you may be more interested in, no one can deny that this may be just a little too personal. Facebook is technically controlling your Facebook feed.
This is how it works: engagement. If you have been interacting with specific friends, groups, pages, Facebook’s algorithm will track those actions. The more you interact, the more posts from those locations will show up on your feed. This is all about Facebook trying to find out what is most important to you and giving it to you. (Totally creepy)
And we can’t forget about the other creepy Facebook qualities that exist. Yes, I’m talking about the poke suggestions, the advertisement monitoring, the consistent plea for users to update their info and, above all else, the face recognition and tagging abilities. Facebook no longer needs to ask, it just knows.
If you think that this is way too creepy, here are a couple ways you can try and fight the algorithm robot. I think it’s time we review how much social media knows about us and how willing we are to hand over our personal information. It can’t get more personal than it is now.
Baer, J. (n.d.). 3 Ways to Fight Facebook’s Algorithm and Customize Your Feed. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-tools/3-ways-to-fight-facebooks-algorithm-and-customize-your-feed/
Kamps, H. J., & Constine, J. (2016, April 21). Facebook’s News Feed is changing again to prioritize sites you actually read. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://techcrunch.com/2016/04/21/facebook-news-is-new/
McHugh, M. (2013, October 04). 6 creepy things you might not know Facebook is doing. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/6-creepy-things-you-might-not-know-facebook-is-doing/
Oremus, W. (2016, January 03). Who Really Controls What You See in Your Facebook Feed—and Why They Keep Changing It . Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/cover_story/2016/01/how_facebook_s_news_feed_algorithm_works.html
Wallaroo Media. (2015, January 22). Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Change History. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://wallaroomedia.com/facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-change-history/