Understanding the Social Networks

These are rough days for Facebook. You don’t need me to tell you that. Here’s another article about how the Facebook algorithm was optimized to drive more provocative and emotion-laden content. Basically, it was refined to put stuff in front of you that makes you angry. When I read these articles I am reminded that most people have not really internalized how the social networks work. Even when people understand in some sense – and often even in detail – how the algorithms work they still tend to see these platforms as modern, digital versions of the town square. There have always been people saying nonsensical things, lying, unknowingly peddling inaccurate information. And our whole civic order is based on a deep skepticism about any authority’s ability to determine what’s true or accurate and what’s not. So really there’s nothing new under the sun, many people say.