Not really ‘Friendly’ at all!

I am not a ‘Facebook’ fan. I have not signed up to this allegedly all-conquering Soshiall-Meejah giant, and I have no intention of doing so in the future. Anyone else can do as they wish; but for me, Facebook has always been a site for ‘wannabees’ who need to verify or indeed justify their very existence by a series of ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ whose ‘clicks’ on their page bring them great joy. Speaking for myself, I know who my friends are; and I firmly believe that the last thing any of my acquaintances wish to know is what I am buying, or watching, or indeed publicising.

But I tend to give, to either individuals or giant digital businesses; the benefit of the doubt when it comes to motives, or indeed motivations. If your main motivation is profit and shareholder value or dividends; I say ‘good luck, mate’. But when a sector of that digital business, believed by its users to be totally impartial because of it’s generation by a computer-based algorithm; turns out to be less than that lauded ‘impartiality’ because of human interference: I and indeed many like me tend towards extreme annoyance.

Allow me to explain. When a computer user clicks on to the BBC website, or indeed when he views or listens to the news programmes that National Broadcaster puts onto the airwaves, we automatically collate it’s content by means of an inbuilt ‘bullshit content’ meter. We know that any comment, or slant placed upon news items, will be towards favouring the Labour Left or Liberal points of view; whether the subject is ‘Climate Change’ or the Welsh Assembly; and indeed anything in between. We know that the news read out has been through the BBC ‘slant-o-meter’, and any person of even moderate intelligence knows how to mentally filter out the ‘bullshit’ and digest what is real, discarding that which is, literally, crap. So, turning to Facebook, one of the star turns of the Facebook website is the ‘Trending’ news sector, which supposedly picked out news stories because they were ‘trending’ or being viewed by multiple viewers across the digital world. ‘Trending’ may be a political story, or even a picture of a wide-eyed and cute kitten, but the way in which the story or item was chosen was supposed to be by an algorithm, generating a list of stories which according to the ‘COMPUTER’, were more important or were gaining a high readership.

So imagine the surprise of the Gizmodo team when they were contacted by several former Facebook contractors, who alleged that the ‘trending’ news list was actually ‘curated’ and that the list was actively suppressing conservative news items because of political bias.

“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator. This individual asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”

So 1.51 Billion users are signed on Facebook. Take a conservative assessment of those people who use Facebook for news selection of, say, 15%, which works out to 226 million people. You then must see the problem; if that many people are being led down a path that they believe is uncontaminated by human bias; how many of those people are unaware that they are the focus of a tiny group of people whose views are diametrically opposed to their own natural inclinations?
And I say that you can be both paranoid; and have people out to get you?

8 comments for “Not really ‘Friendly’ at all!

  1. Henry Kaye
    May 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Oh, how I agree with your comment, Mike! When Facebook and Twitter and whatever else started I was considerable alarmed. As you say, the established news media have declared their allegiance and all who see or read their views know exactly where they are coming from. Facebook and the others are presenting disguised bias and in so doing are creating a lot of mischief as so many of their viewers are not the brightest sparks in the universe.

  2. Stonyground
    May 10, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    My wife uses Facebook to communicate with her running club. They swap jokes, post photographs, discuss their achievements and up and coming events. It seems to be an ideal format for that kind of thing. I have never heard her refer to anything that has been trending.

  3. Hereward Unbowed.
    May 10, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    “So imagine the surprise”

    Faceless………………prejudiced, propagandizing, Socialist, doctrinaire…..NAH – I wasn’t surprised.

    “Stoneyground”

    I played footie, rugby, cricket, martial arts in betwixt and I went long distance running for many a year, distance running is a ‘loner sport’.

    “discuss their achievements and up and coming events”

    Only if, they are that needy, oh dear me, surely, your wife needs to change her club and or, sport.

  4. May 11, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I use facebook. I actually have some quite nice friends (that I have never met)( and some that I have) and enjoy seeing their comments on matters. I put some comments and posts up m’self. I like their opinions, even when they take me to task. I especially enjoy european Mensa types who are absolutely convinced that there is no God and that lesbians/homosexuals and sundry lefties are the natural heirs and successors to the planet. By the Lord Harry I can have fun with them. But…. I post most of my own blog pieces to Facebook. I have over three hundred friends who then visit my blog. That brings in adsense revenue. So far this year I have earned $2.03

    • Hereward Unbowed.
      May 11, 2016 at 5:56 am

      I would have to weigh the ‘benefits’ of debating ivory tower heights in such a challenging forum, set against, the princely sums that – I was paid for the mental exertion.

      By all the Gods, it’s a tough one.

      😉

  5. Graham Wood
    May 11, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Mike I could not agree more! Facebook? What a time-waster! And for shed loads of trivia – why bother! Life is too short for such trivial pursuits.
    As for “trending”. Who sets the trend criteria, and how subjective.

    • Lord T
      May 11, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Trending is supposed to be a automated count of the news items that are viewed, commented on, liked, etc. and it then raises the profile to more people for wider consumption. No human interaction is required. Unless you want to inject a bit of bias of course.

  6. Stonyground
    May 11, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    “discuss their achievements and up and coming events”

    It’s a running club, they enter runs and other members are interested in how well people did. Up and coming events. So everyone knows when and where they are happening so they can attend.

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