"Facebook is making a major change to the News Feed that will...."- recode.net
That little blurb was Trending, according to Facebook, on January 12, 2018. As a lark, I started taking screen shots of Trending News that day. If Mark Zuckerberg was here, right this second, I'm sure he'd tell me some gobbledygook about the way Facebook uses advanced logarithms to come up with the Trending Feed, yadda yadda ya...
Eh, I don't buy it and let me tell you why.
Let me tell you a few of my news researching habits since the beginning of the year.
I looked it up and the 5 National News sites that I have frequented the most are:
The 2 Local News sites that I have frequented the most this year are:
The 3 National News sites that I "like" on Facebook are
Let's see how well Facebook knows me.
Facebook doesn't know me at all, I've read, at least, a half dozen "House of Horrors" stories today, yet nothing on my trending feed. Also, for all Facebook knows, I only get my news from RT, The Blaze, and Reason and none are represented here. Only one story looks like it's unique to me, and that's the Arsenal story. (I read a lot of soccer news.) I am really curious about the Amazon story, for example. Today Amazon announced the Top 20 finalists for their second headquarters out of a possible 200+ cities that were vying for it. I live in Cleveland, why do I care if Charlotte is one of the 200 cities that didn't get it.
I have only been to 3 of the above sources before in my life: NBC News, BBC, and The Guardian.
I'm starting to notice a pattern. Lots of local websites. British websites. Left-Wing Websites. Instead of knowing what I like, I suspect Facebook is telling me what the news is based on their perspective, not what's really Trending.
Ah, see, KFOR had the House of Horrors story before CNN picked it up. Facebook gets a point. But then they lose a point for the Pastor denounces Trump story....
I feel like I'm banging my head on the wall here with Trump. In 2015, I begged people not to vote for Trump. In 2016, I implored people not to vote for Trump. Now that he's the President, he's right about a third of the time, (which is still really bad) but because media coverage is 90% negative, I find myself defending him when he is right. I'm still looking for the first link to a positive article on Trump from the largest Social Media Platform in the World.
I think I referenced an India Times article once for Beacon of Speech. Can't understand the Aadhaar suggestion. Is this Trending in the US? The World? It can't be off of Facebook, I haven't "liked" anything from India.
For example, when someone dies, how does Facebook choose the best article to reference? Why would you choose the Huffington Post as the site of record for the death of Dolores O'Riordan? For as much hate as I give Rolling Stone, they really are the best place for a rocker's obituary. That's probably not what they want to be known for....
Still waiting for trending articles from Fox News, The Blaze, Breitbart, etc. Plane skids off runway, probably doesn't matter the source. A story on Chelsea Manning? I didn't read it, but I could guess Time's reaction.
I actively avoid EW, they make my brain rot from the inside. AlJazeera as a top trending news source? I also see 2 Sh!thole stories. Beacon of Speech itself weighed in on alleged comments by the President about sh!tholes. You would think that if Beacon of Speech was listed as my profession on my profile page, it might somehow make it onto my own Facebook feed, somewhere.
I think every single one of my friends on Facebook have made a joke about Tide Laundry pods. If trending stories were based off of my feed specifically, this would be the top story of the week, by far. Remember Facebook promoting Facebook from Wired for later in this article.
Again, nearly every news website had the passing of Keith Jackson. How does Facebook come up with Saturday Down South as the story of record. King's Revolutionary Dream Deferred? For all the time I've spent reading news stories, today is the first time I've ever heard of the website TruthDig.
For the first time in the week, these trending suggestions all seem reasonable. Forbes, Time, CNN all reasonable and the Standard UK for a UK story.
I like that Facebook thinks that Facebook is one of the top stories of the week. These changes to the news feed caused a seismic shift in the Facebook stock value. Supposedly Facebook wants to re-emphasize friends and family in the news feed, but de-emphasize sponsored and corporate content. That new emphasis on interpersonal contact sent stocks a tumblin'. What about the Trending choices though? After my little experiment, I went to Facebook themselves to defend their Trending decisions.
Let's pretend I take them at their word. (Which I don't.) Notice the last line: "Our team is responsible..." meaning their final decisions aren't made by the logarithms, but by people. Who are these people, are they a nice cross section of Americans? Or a bunch of 6 digit earning Facebook geeks? Just as ESPN decries that they don't have a liberal slant (which they do), Facebook's slant is more nuanced. Who decides what's news, what's trending, what's fake news isn't set by a philosophy, but a subtle form of groupthink....
Which is why I like Drudge Report. People scream that Drudge is a conservative website and I'm not sure how their argument holds water if you claim that places like the Facebook Trending Feed are neutral. Drudge picks the top headlines of the day and splashes them across the top of the website. Then, underneath the headlines, are links to, probably, the Top 50 or so news sites and columnists in the United States and Great Britain.
So even if the stories chosen lean toward a Right agenda, which I don't know if they do, but for arguments sake, let's say they do, they are counterbalanced by links to other news sources below. Left, Right, Middle, to me the Drudge Report is almost like a digital directory of news. The top stories of the day at the top are not unlike the trending feed at Facebook, except Facebook doesn't give me a directory of news as a counterbalance.
You could be yelling at me "don't use Facebook for news" which is valid, for me, but how many people get their news from Social Media? (Answer: Way, way too many.) Because Facebook is free, I 100% understand why they have ads everywhere, everyone needs their own business model, including ads for certain articles. And I understand their "processes," just don't try to sell me their neutrality.
Why is this bothering me? Because I have been struggling with what is news lately. Trump is attacking CNN as fake news when I believe CNN is just agenda driven. Big difference. CNN is screaming that Trump is restricting their speech...and I don't believe that, either. Trump is restricting CNN's access. Chris Cillizza writes a negative article about Trump every 45 seconds while journalists are dying for stories all over the world (including at our doorstep in Mexico). I don't see Cillizza's speech being stopped.
You know, this is the second time I've lost my mojo by the end of an article.
Maybe I'm the problem. Donald Trump, Chris Cillizza, Mark Zuckerberg, maybe they're all salt of the earth type people. I'm the one who can't see things straight....