Facebook Filtering Users' Timelines Stokes Concerns of Censorship and Data-Mining

By C. Mitchell Shaw - Posted at The New American:


Facebook has a long and checkered past concerning the way the company decides what a user sees in his or her timeline. Now, the social media giant is changing the formula again, and this time it will impact whether or not users will see articles shared by their friends. The method by which Facebook will do it involves another controversial issue that has dogged the company: data-mining.

Facebook has built a multi-billion dollar empire by both providing a service its users want and mining the data of those users for the purpose of advertising sales. The method by which Zuckerberg's company provides the content that keeps its users coming back is a proprietary algorithm which Slate's senior technology writer, Will Oremus, described in an article in January 2016:
Every time you open Facebook, one of the world’s most influential, controversial, and misunderstood algorithms springs into action. It scans and collects everything posted in the past week by each of your friends, everyone you follow, each group you belong to, and every Facebook page you’ve liked. For the average Facebook user, that’s more than 1,500 posts. If you have several hundred friends, it could be as many as 10,000. Then, according to a closely guarded and constantly shifting formula, Facebook’s news feed algorithm ranks them all, in what it believes to be the precise order of how likely you are to find each post worthwhile.

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