Several months ago, Pew Research told us 30% of the U.S. logon to Facebook for their news and that 20% of them believe it’s a reliable source. That, of course, was a few months before the you-know-what hit the fan when FB was exposed for doing emotional experiments on its customers by manipulating the type of news and posts they would see to gauge their responses. Then they profusely apologized in the MSM for their mind-bending actions.
However, Tim Herrera, staffer at the Washington Post, did an experiment a few weeks after FB’s apology to see if any manipulation was still occurring and discovered it is. Here are some of his findings:
- Although he took great pains to let FB know he was interested in posts about his hometown, Denver, Colorado, no stories about Denver came up in his News Feed.
- He is into technology (it’s his job) and sports, but he got mainly feeds from feminist blogs while his favorite blog had nothing in his News Feed.
- A bunch of posts about New York showed up for him, in spite of the fact he moved away from there over a year ago and exhibited no signs of interest in NY any more.
- Overall, only 29% of his “Friends” and Page Like posts showed up in his News Feed.
Herrera discovered that what he was told by staff at FB didn’t pan out for what was actually happening when he interacted with the social media website. This left him wondering if it was just bad programming for their algorithm. That seems unlikely if they were able to make sure to send sad or negative news to some people while sending happy or positive posts to others in their earlier experiment. I’m of the opinion FB is still in the mind-bending business. “Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet” is a saying that holds true, and it seems we can substitute the term “Facebook” (and possibly other social media brands) in that well-known statement for the term “the Internet.” I wonder if the 30% in the Pew Research poll will be enlightened enough to change their news source.
In a related story, Facebook is now trying to determine a way to let their members know if a story is fiction (e.g. satire) or “for realsies.” Can that function be applied to rate how FB operates?
Harry A. Gaylord