In 2018, the turning point to give greater weight to the most significant social interactions, focusing on posts and images shared by friends and relatives. A change that, however, had unwanted repercussions, but which the founder of the social network did not care about
Facebook’s attempts to change the algorithm to reward posts and photos that lead to more meaningful interactions between users seem to have only led to a proliferation of more divisive content. All this was known to the founder of the social network Mark Zuckerberg who for has vI have deliberately chosen not to solve these problems in the running. In its third installment on the disclosure of documents inside the Menlo Park giant, the Wall Street Journal this time focuses on the functioning of the News Feed and its underlying algorithm.
The side effects
The aim of promoting the meaningful social interactions, also known as MSI, dates back to 2018 and represented a rather important change for the functioning of the social network. In essence, it can be summarized as a choice to reduce the passive use of ad hoc content, to instead favor original posts and photos shared by family and friends. A turning point that also involved a different ranking of posts, rewarding those who got more Like, but above all comments. However, all the negative effects of this new approach soon emerged: in particular an overexposure of very divisive content, but capable of attracting interactions mostly of angry people or those who commented in a negative way.
Alarms left unheard
Not that anyone had noticed this ongoing process. The documents reveal an email from Jonah Peretti, co-founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, a viral news site that gets a large part of its traffic thanks to Facebook. In his lines dating back to autumn 2018 aimed precisely at Zuckerberg there was already concern about the wide prominence given precisely to the most divisive news. It was also noticed by Anna Stepanov who dealt with these issues within Facebook. Stepanov had advanced the proposed modification of the algorithm to stem this drift, meeting for Zuckerberg’s opposition. The MSI system was born above all as a response to a general drop in Likes and comments: intervening on the algorithm would have risked leading again to lower user engagement.
The other inquiries
Only at the beginning of last year Facebook has decided to try to curb this trend. In the new tests carried out, the likelihood of commenting or sharing a political topic post would have had less weight. All this with a view to giving less importance to political contents, which are by definition more divided than the others. In recent days, the Wall Street Journal had already shared two other investigations based on internal documents of the Menlo Park company. In the first, a system was unveiled that allowed 5.8 million Facebook VIP users to comply with much weaker rules on content moderation than the others. In the second article, instead, the research conducted by the social network was cited, which revealed the negative psychological consequences that the use of Instagram has on adolescents.
September 16, 2021 (change September 16, 2021 | 12:36)
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