The Sydney Morning Herald published an interesting report about the social media giant, Facebook, and what kind of problems it has been facing.
Because of the recent political events in the US, Facebook came under fire from authorities in allegations related to the presidential election last year.
It wasn’t just Facebook, the other two giants – Google and Twitter – are also under expected to face questions from US authorities and investigators.
But, What Is Actually Going On?
Facebook is facing criticism that extends beyond the involvement of foreign players like Russia in US politics.
Experts say that Facebook’s role in modern communications has undermined the news business and impacted every other industry in some way or another.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) spoke with nine experts from the worlds of technology, academia, politics and journalism to speak about what is happening and share their recommendations, insights and ways to improve.
The problems can be summarized as follows:
- Facing the flood of misinformation
- Freedom of speech dilemma
- Fake people vs Real People verification
- Fixing news-feed algorithms (technology challenge)
- What should be the focus of the platform (Quantity or Quality?)
- And other problems
What Did These Experts Say?
We, at Roaming Buzz, will be selecting the most relevant of these issues to many of us – regular Facebook users. So, we will share the summary of what selected experts. But you can refer to the original report, if you want to read the opinion of other experts.
On the issue of misinformation – The Emotional Engagement
Jonathan Albright, Research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, shared an interesting opinion about this matter.
He claims that Facebook appears to be focusing on sensationalized content with attention on the emotional aspects of what people tend to consume and not really the factual intent.
No doubt, this is a very interesting approach – if proven to be true. He highlighted that the recently added emoji features seem to have an amplifying effect – a megaphone if you will – that may signal certain messages out for the consumers.
Albright highlighted that it would be very difficult to change user behavior (which is primarily to react to something). But he believes that the social media platform can create something like (a trust emoji) or some other way to express emotions better, because the current situation is creating an uphill battle for Facebook.
On The Issue Of Real or Fake People
This issue is very problematic because it taps into matters concerning freedom of speech, whistleblowers, individuals who are scared to reveal their true identity – for some reason.
According to Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired Magazine seems to be an advocate of ways to verify real people. He also advocates for verifying all Facebook users.
He also suggests that companies would need multi-level or additional level of verification. He said Whistleblowers and dissidents might need to use a different platform.
But, we ask, wouldn’t a different platform create the same issue?
He also suggests that Facebook need to have some sort of indicators to filter unverified sources.
On The Issue of Technology Challenge
Facebook uses specific algorithms to filter and share content catered to users based on their behaviors, like, wants and things connected to them.
This is the reason why many people join Facebook, especially individuals who have been seeking a sense of community online.
Kate Losse, a former employee of Facebook, suggested that the company could have a different option for various users and said that some people may need, like vintage Facebook.
Vintage Facebook is basically the old time platform that had no likes and reactions and forced users to comment, which prompted better engagement, according to Kate.
However, Alice Marwick, Assistant professor of communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggested that Facebook should grant certain freedoms to the user to
“sort their news feed chronologically by default on all platforms, rather than rely on an algorithmically sorted News Feed. This would increase the diversity of items in the News Feed, and would make it more likely that users were exposed to people and information that didn’t support their own confirmation bias.”
But she also recognizes the need of human oversight when it comes to advertising and targeting systems. This way,
“oversee algorithmically generated categories (rather than basing them solely on user-inputted interests). Political and interest-based advertising should be under much stricter scrutiny than, say, the advertising of T-shirts or hair products.”
There are many concerns when it comes to controlling the flow and feed of content to Facebook consumers. Some argue that who has the authority to determine which is a real content and which is fake? Will authorities use it for further propaganda because authorities can be considered a “verified source”?
What would happen to people who are escaping prosecution for political reasons or other oppressive restrictions/laws?
Additionally, there are facts that can be considered undisputable. These facts get, sometimes, overshadowed by misinformation.
So, this dilemma is making things very complicated for the tech giant.
What do you think? What should Facebook do to get better?
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