In late August, the social network put an algorithm in charge of its “trending” feature, selecting the most popular topics, articles and keywords. The change came after proof that the contract workers who curated the news headline feature removed popular conservative articles and promoted less popular left leaning articles.
But liberals are not happy with the changes.
“This doesn’t seem like an appropriate solution,” said Jason Turcotte, assistant professor of communication at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “Algorithms don’t necessarily respond to news values or journalistic ethics. Algorithms respond to keywords, search terms and trends.”
And as The Onion (comedically) explains, this algorithm has major risks…
Exposing Millennials to new ideas…
Assuring users that the company’s entire team of engineers was working hard to make sure an algo glitch like this never happens again, Facebook executives confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that a horrible accident last night involving the website’s algorithm had resulted in thousands of users being exposed to new concepts.
“Unfortunately, late Monday evening, a major failure in our news feed program allowed a significant number of users to come into contact with concepts unfamiliar to them,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, appearing contrite as he emphasized to reporters that the issue had been resolved and that it was now safe to visit the social media site again without fear of encountering any opinions, notions, or perspectives not aligning with one’s existing worldview.
“To those who were forced to exit their safe space and read a headline they did not agree with when they visited Facebook yesterday, we are deeply sorry. It’s an inexcusable failing on our part if your viewpoints were not reinforced by what you saw onscreen. I want all Facebook users to know that you’ll never again encounter any ideas on our site that are in any way novel or ideologically challenging to you—that’s my personal promise.”
Zuckerberg then concluded the press conference by thanking users for their support, assuring liberals that a news article confirming their own individual political and personal biases would be directed to their news feeds with more information on Facebook’s policy.
Several former curators now wonder if Facebook will simply get rid of the feature… especially if non-liberal views actually escape into the mainstream.