mfioretti: facebook* + filter bubble*

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  1. CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook today, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri tells TechCrunch “I expect that the amount of distribution for publishers will go down because a lot of publisher content is just passively consumed and not talked about. Overall time on Facebook will decrease, but we think this is the right thing to do.”

    The winners in this change will be users and their sense of community, since they should find Facebook more rewarding and less of a black hole of wasted time viewing mindless video clips and guilty-pleasure articles. And long-term, it should preserve Facebook’s business and ensure it still has a platform to provide referral traffic for news publishers and marketers, albeit less than before.

    The biggest losers will be publishers who’ve shifted resources to invest in eye-catching pre-recorded social videos, because Mosseri says “video is such a passive experience”. He admits that he expects publishers to react with “a certain amount of scrutiny and anxiety”, but didn’t have many concrete answers about how publishers should scramble to react beyond “experimenting . . . and seeing . . what content gets more comments, more likes, more reshares.”
    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/11/facebook-time-well-spent
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  2. Facebook has turned into a toxic commodity since Mr Trump was elected. Big Tech is the new big tobacco in Washington. It is not a question of whether the regulatory backlash will come, but when and how.

    Mr Zuckerberg bears responsibility for this. Having denied Facebook’s “filter bubble” played any role in Mr Trump’s victory — or Russia’s part in helping clinch it — Mr Zuckerberg is the primary target of the Democratic backlash. He is now asking America to believe that he can turn Facebook’s news feed from an echo chamber into a public square. Revenue growth is no longer the priority. “None of that matters if our services are used in a way that doesn’t bring people closer together,” he says.

    How will Mr Zuckerberg arrange this Kumbaya conversion? By boosting the community ties that only Facebook can offer. Readers will forgive me if I take another lie down. Mr Zuckerberg suffers from two delusions common to America’s new economy elites. They think they are nice people — indeed, most of them are. Mr Zuckerberg seems to be, too. But they tend to cloak their self-interest in righteous language. Talking about values has the collateral benefit of avoiding talking about wealth. If the rich are giving their money away to good causes, such as inner city schools and research into diseases, we should not dwell on taxes. Mr Zuckerberg is not funding any private wars in Africa. He is a good person. The fact that his company pays barely any tax is therefore irrelevant.

    The second liberal delusion is to believe they have a truer grasp of people’s interests than voters themselves. In some cases that might be true. It is hard to see how abolishing health subsidies will help people who live in “flyover” America. But here is the crux. It does not matter how many times Mr Zuckerberg invokes the magic of online communities. They cannot substitute for the real ones that have gone missing. Bowling online together is no cure for bowling offline alone.

    The next time Mr Zuckerberg wants to showcase Facebook, he should invest some of his money in an actual place. It should be far away from any of America’s booming cities — say Youngstown, Ohio. For the price of a couple of days’ Facebook revenues, he could train thousands of people. He might even fund a newspaper to make up for social media’s destruction of local journalism. The effect could be electrifying. Such an example would bring a couple more benefits. First, it would demonstrate that Mr Zuckerberg can listen, rather than pretending to. Second, people will want to drop round to his place for dinner.
    https://medium.com/financial-times/the-zuckerberg-delusion-5d427c5d699a
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  3. In Slovakia, data from Facebook-owned analytics site CrowdTangle shows that “interactions” – engagement such as likes, shares and comments – fell by 60% overnight for the Facebook pages of a broad selection of the country’s media Facebook pages. Filip Struhárik, a Slovakian journalist with news site Denník N, says the situation has since worsened, falling by a further 5%.

    “Lower reach can be a problem for smaller publishers, citizens’ initiatives, small NGOs,” Struhárik said. “They can’t afford to pay for distribution on Facebook by boosting posts – and they don’t have infrastructure to reach people other ways.”

    Struhárik thinks his employer will survive the change. Denník N has subscription revenue, which means it doesn’t rely on the vast traffic that Facebook can drive for advertising income, and ensures that its most dedicated readers go straight to its homepage for their news. But Fernandez, in Guatemala, is much more concerned.
    https://www.theguardian.com/technolog...rnalists-democracy-guatemala-slovakia
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  4. The problem is this: Facebook has become a feedback loop which can and does, despite its best intentions, become a vicious spiral. At Facebook’s scale, behavioral targeting doesn’t just reflect our behavior, it actually influences it. Over time, a service which was supposed to connect humanity is actually partitioning us into fractal disconnected bubbles.

    The way Facebook’s News Feed works is that the more you “engage” with posts from a particular user, the more often their posts are shown to you. The more you engage with a particular kind of post, the more you will see its ilk. So far so good! It’s just showing you what you’ve demonstrated you’re interested in. What’s wrong with that?

    The answer is twofold. First, this eventually constructs a small “in-group” cluster of Facebook friends and topics that dominate your feed; and as you grow accustomed to interacting with them, this causes your behavior to change, and you interact with them even more, reinforcing their in-group status … and (relatively) isolating you from the rest of your friends, the out-group.

    Second, and substantially worse, because “engagement” is the metric, Facebook inevitably selects for the shocking and the outrageous. Ev Williams summed up the results brilliantly:

    Of course this doesn’t just apply to Facebook.
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/04/whe...m_source=tctwreshare&sr_share=twitter
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  5. The bubble filter demonstrates the internet as shifting from a tool of global connectivity to individual disconnect; personal opinion becomes fossilised while public discourse withers away. Without meaningful public discourse, the internet exposes us to competing opinions only through (often anonymous) trolling. This is dangerous. With little to no space for productive debate, ideological conflicts are carried out institutionally – as evinced by the onslaught of fake news accusations that characterised the final American presidential debate.

    When we live in bubbles, we forget how to engage and disagree in a civil manner.

    As a product of the neoliberal project, the bubble filter caters to our perceived demands for constant personalised stimulation and to the commodification of the digital experience. We find ourselves further removed from neighbours to whom we occupy distant ideological worlds; we cease to understand each other as we increasingly lack basic exposure to each other. When we live in bubbles, we forget how to engage and disagree in a civil manner. This situation has the potential to normalise extreme polarity and reactionary populism. Left without public forums to negotiate competing worldviews and engage with each other, we should not be surprised if ideological conflicts start to increasingly escalate in violent ways.
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/digital...erm=0_717bc5d86d-5aca16cdcc-407399415
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  6. Esplora il significato del termine: L’attenzione a come ci sentiamo, di cui adesso comprendiamo bene la ragione, non è una novità: nel giugno del 2014, Facebook ha pubblicato i risultati di un esperimento che aveva esposto quasi 700 mila utenti a contenuti soprattutto positivi o soprattutto negativi. Lo scopo? Studiare le reazioni. Il passo successivo? Rivendersele, pare. » L’attenzione a come ci sentiamo, di cui adesso comprendiamo bene la ragione, non è una novità: nel giugno del 2014, Facebook ha pubblicato i risultati di un esperimento che aveva esposto quasi 700 mila utenti a contenuti soprattutto positivi o soprattutto negativi. Lo scopo? Studiare le reazioni. Il passo successivo? Rivendersele, pare.
    http://www.corriere.it/tecnologia/soc...f16-2e64-11e7-8176-4e0249fd95d5.shtml
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  7. Facebook’s entire project, when it comes to news, rests on the assumption that people’s individual preferences ultimately coincide with the public good, and that if it doesn’t appear that way at first, you’re not delving deeply enough into the data. By contrast, decades of social-science research shows that most of us simply prefer stuff that feels true to our worldview even if it isn’t true at all and that the mining of all those preference signals is likely to lead us deeper into bubbles rather than out of them.

    What’s needed, he argues, is some global superstructure to advance humanity.

    This is not an especially controversial idea; Zuckerberg is arguing for a kind of digital-era version of the global institution-building that the Western world engaged in after World War II. But because he is a chief executive and not an elected president, there is something frightening about his project. He is positioning Facebook — and, considering that he commands absolute voting control of the company, he is positioning himself — as a critical enabler of the next generation of human society. A minor problem with his mission is that it drips with megalomania, albeit of a particularly sincere sort. With his wife, Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg has pledged to give away nearly all of his wealth to a variety of charitable causes, including a long-term medical-research project to cure all disease. His desire to take on global social problems through digital connectivity, and specifically through Facebook, feels like part of the same impulse.

    Yet Zuckerberg is often blasé about the messiness of the transition between the world we’re in and the one he wants to create through software. Building new “social infrastructure” usually involves tearing older infrastructure down. If you manage the demolition poorly, you might undermine what comes next.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/ma...n-facebook-fix-its-own-worst-bug.html
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  8. Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.
    https://hbr.org/2017/04/a-new-more-ri...e-you-use-facebook-the-worse-you-feel
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  9. Una gamma di fornitori sempre più ampia. Della pratica Repubblica ne ha già parlato nel 2013, quando Facebook ha lanciato Categorie Partner, il servizio con cui Mark Zuckerberg ha messo a disposizione dei propri inserzionisti queste notizie raccolte da aziende terze, in modo da garantire la pubblicità giusta alla persona giusta. Ma, se inizialmente il sistema era attivo solo negli Stati Uniti, oggi è disponibile anche in Francia, Germania e Regno Unito. Mentre i fornitori della rete in blu si sono moltiplicati fino a includere: Acxiom, Experian, Greater Data, Epsilon, Quantium, TransUnion, WPP e Oracle data cloud. Quest'ultimo, in particolare, ha un ruolo di primo piano nel settore grazie all'acquisizione nel 2014 sia di BlueKai, piattaforma basata sul cloud che permette alle società di personalizzare le campagne di marketing online, offline e su mobile, sia di Datalogix, che aggrega e fornisce informazioni relative a oltre due trilioni di spesa dei consumatori di 1500 partner commerciali, tra cui Visa, Mastercard e TiVo.

    LEGGI: Svelato il codice etico. Così Facebook sceglie i post da cancellare

    Diffile uscirne. Per comprendere meglio quali siano esattamente le informazioni che il social di Menlo Park compra da queste aziende, il sito di giornalismo investigativo ha scaricato una lista di 29mila categorie che Facebook fornisce agli inserzionisti pubblicitari. La scoperta: di queste 29mila, 600 sono riconducibili a dati forniti da terzi e si tratta per lo più di notizie finanziarie. Nessuna di queste categorie, però, risulta presente tra le "Preferenze relative alle inserzioni": la pagina che Facebook ci mette a disposizione per capire quali informazioni influenzano gli spot che vediamo in bacheca e controllarli. "Non sono onesti", ha commentato Jeffrey Chester, direttore esecutivo del Center for Digital Democracy. "Le persone dovrebbero poter aver accesso a questo pacchetto". Inoltre, i giornalisti di ProPubblica hanno messo in evidenza che è difficilissimo uscire fuori da questa forma di profilazione. Per esempio, stando alla loro indagine, impedire a Oracle data cloud di fornire i nostri dati a Facebook richiede ai consumatori statunitensi di spedire via posta una richiesta scritta, con la copia di un documento rilasciato dalle autorità, al responsabile della privacy di Oracle.
    http://www.repubblica.it/tecnologia/s...k_della_nostra_vita_offline-155458727
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  10. On Facebook, what you click on, what you share with your “friends” shapes your profile, preferences, affinities, political opinions and your vision of the world. The last thing Facebook wants is to contradict you in any way. The sanction would be immediate: you’d click/share much less; even worse, you might cut your session short. Therefore, Facebook has no choice but keeping you in the warm, comfort of the cosy environment you created click after click. In the United States, Facebook does this for 40 minutes per user and per day.

    In a recent piece from the New York Times Magazine, writer Jenna Wortham explained it perfectly:

    I’ve spent nearly 10 years coaching Facebook — and Instagram and Twitter — on what kinds of news and photos I don’t want to see, and they all behaved accordingly. Each time I liked an article, or clicked on a link, or hid another, the algorithms that curate my streams took notice and showed me only what they thought I wanted to see. That meant I didn’t realize that most of my family members, who live in rural Virginia, were voicing their support for Trump online, and I didn’t see any of the pro-Trump memes that were in heavy circulation before the election. I never saw a Trump hat or a sign or a shirt in my feeds, and the only Election Day selfies I saw were of people declaring their support for Hillary Clinton.

    Here is an important question: How does news fit in Facebook’s walled Wonderland? Short answer: it doesn’t.

    Unfiltered news doesn’t share well, not at all:
    • It can be emotional, but in the worse sense; no one is willing to spread a gruesome account from Mosul among his/er peers.
    • Most likely, unfiltered news will convey a negative aspect of society. Again, another revelation from The Intercept or ProPublica won’t get many clicks.
    • Unfiltered news can upset users’ views, beliefs, or opinions.

    Hence the importance of strongly filtering what comes from the news media. This, the social network candidly acknowledged last June when justifying a change in its algorithm. Here is what Adam Mosseri, VP Product Management for News Feed had to say on June 29 (edits and emphasis mine):

    People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting. (…) We’ve also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment.

    We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful. Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and view points, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging.
    https://mondaynote.com/facebooks-wall...th-news-media-b145e2d0078c#.g5tgji7oe
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