Do you think Facebook News feed is a trustworthy source of news? Well, you should think again. Due to a new algorithm that personalizes your News Feed it is nearly impossible to escape your own or your friends’ biases.
Facebook picks information and delivers it to you if it matches your preferences and behavior. This is because the site tries to provide you only with information that is relevant, which is a good thing in our supersaturated media environment.
On the other hand, the personalization feature in the News Feed may work against most users because the only unbiased method to deliver info would be to display chronologically all posts from your Facebook contacts. Yet, this is not what happens in reality and Facebook has no pretensions of being unbiased.
In News Feed, info coming from friends and family members has priority over publishers. Additionally, what you click or read has the highest priority. So, posts from your contacts will be displayed before posts from news outlets.
So how does this affect you? It affects you if you use Facebook as a primary source for news. According to a recent survey, 61 percent of Millennials use the site to stay informed on the political events and government.
Plus, if you use the site on a daily basis you might have developed the propensity to trust what your friends and family share. Yet, your friends may have the same political views as you, so don’t expect fresh information to emerge.
As a result, you may miss important info that could give you a fresh perspective on a specific event. For instance, people are very divided over Brexit, so if your friends think that it is a good thing it happened, you may miss pieces on the downsize of the British Leave.
Analysts warn that because Facebook sorts News Feed input based on your own behavior, you may end up in a prison made of your own biases. And since nearly 80 percent of users don’t log into the platform to read news but they eventually do so, this warning is of particular concern.
Currently, there is not an option to disable the personalize feature of the News Feed but you can make it slightly less biased with some simple tweaks. For example, you can unfollow a friend’s posts or use the ‘See First’ feature to place content that you really enjoy on top of your News Feed.
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