Facebook's year-old "improvements" to the newsfeed have elevated enraging Fox News posts to the service's dominant form


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/18/anger-sells.html


So working as intended then?


It seems wrong to let people refer to these programmers as engineers. Real professional engineers have obligations and must consider consequences instead of following pointy-headed managers into horrible decisions.


Yes, it keeps the bottom feeders busy.


Did they actually define what was being improved?

Like, “we made improvements that will primarily improve our profit margins.”


Hey, that reminds me that it’s been 11 months since I dropped off of facebook and deleted my account. My parents still get pics of my kid via email, I still get invited to parties occasionally, and my world hasn’t ended.


Reminds me of the Microsoft AI program that was trained to be racist in less than a day.


Like I said. Working as intended.


Are they sharing the one about Zuck being dead? He and the Fonz in a motorcycle crash - Zuck was a passenger.


Here, I fixed their logo.


If you ask an engineer to maximize engagement without asking them to minimize these unpleasant things, you will always end up with a slot-machine whose jackpot is Fox News.

And perhaps even if Fox News didn’t already exist, this approach would create a vacuum that someone else would eagerly fill.


How do you get news in Facebook? I want to know because right now I don’t see any, unless friends post something. I want to know, so I don’t start getting any.


What I’d like to see Facebook do is go back down the chain when they nuke fake news/hate speech/hoaxes/etc. Right now, if something gets removed, anyone who reshared it is left with an “attachment unavailable” post. That’s it. There’s no punishment for being an idiot.

Facebook should implement a deranking system. If you keep spreading crap that gets removed, you’ll be shown in your friend’s feeds less and less, until you are effectively muted for a while. If you share something particularly egregious like the NZ shooter’s livestream, you should get the same temporary or permanent ban the publisher of that content gets.

Oh, and when someone does get a ban, show people who visit their profile why they are banned and for how long. Shame them.


Right. They want to drive as much engagement as possible without facing the ire of regulators. So Fox News is their best bet for that goal.


My mother-in-law is ensnared in the Fox “News™ (now with twice the outrage and none of the facts of those other news sources)” disinformation gravity well, and was talking about people being able to abort new born babies in NY.

It was an experience.

The news that Facebook has been unable to actually improve anything in the last year isn’t enough to make me break out my surprised face. The best I can manage is a “yeah, and?” shrug.


Maybe they should go back to human curators?

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If news is factual, I feel it shouldn’t be suppressed, no mater the source. And if it’s not factual, it shouldn’t be disseminated, no matter the source.

Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all.

Yeah, see, this isn’t right either.

Maybe Facebook shouldn’t be supplying/spreading any news and should stick to being a social platform? Or, if it chooses to act as a secondary news service, it faces substantial penalties for passing off lies and propaganda as “truth.”

I just had an idea for something that would be interesting, but unfeasible. Have Facebook put out a bounty for fake news. The first person to turn in something currently circulating through FB that’s demonstrably false earns the reward. The reward can be based on how long it took to find, and how far it had been circulated, with stories that have been up a short time but have been spreading fast pulling in the largest bounties. Then everywhere the story shows up is replaced with a banner stating that the story was verified “FAKE NEWS” along with the bounty amount to encourage others to participate. People could earn a living just camping on the Fox News FB page.

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How is Facebook supposed to determine if a story is factual? What if it has a core element of truth with a lot of spin on top? What if it’s almost entirely true but they got one of the figures slightly wrong?

The flipside of that “Facebook is suppressing conservative voices” article is that the voices being suppressed were Infowars, Breitbart, and similar purveyors of inflammatory and false information.


This. -/\




And Facebook’s inability (or refusal) to determine true from false from spin takes me back to here:

(eta) the fact remains, they are far too influential across a wide selection of humanity to shrug and carry on with their business as usual. They’ve positioned themselves here. They need to fix it, or stop.