These experiments are, hopefully, innocuous. But the conclusions they all reach point to the massive influence Facebook could have if they chose to use it. I’m not a paranoid person, but I am reluctantly a little cynical. As a teacher, the conclusions take on new meaning. I used to teach a media unit where I taught my students ways to “read” media like commercials, ads, even film. But how do I teach them to critically examine something that can’t be seen–the algorithm? The experiments? The manipulations are getting more sophisticated. Any of us could be a victim of this modern manipulation.
*I’m back on Facebook because I starting getting text messages from friends who thought I unfriended them. And, apparently, some other friends sent out a Facebook search party to find me. It’s really hard to quit Facebook. But I have limited my likes, quit 80% of groups, unliked pages I had liked, and basically tried to feed less information into the algorithm.
August 30, 2017 — 4:47 pm
The very idea that Facebook leverages my personal relationships for their commercial profit has always bothered me. I love staying in touch with far flung family, but it comes with letting Facebook hang out at the family table like a creepy uninvited guest as the cost.
Lately, I use Facebook to connect with people I have never met in real life but who share interests with me, and this has been a really interesting way to develop some new local relationships that may never have come to be otherwise.
Of late, I try to check sources before I share things, think critically before tapping a reaction, etc., but it’s really starting to feel like a constant battle with the invisible algorithms everywhere. They think they know me, and they’re wrong, and they still wield influence that I must guard against.
It IS hard to leave Facebook. If I shut down my account it will be the second time that I’ve done so. But I have to agree – their influence is vast, and the algorithms they use are unknowable. And that’s really creepy.
Facebook users are the product Facebook sells. We are the product. We have to remember that.