By Director of Operations Henry Davies
Facebook has recently announced a change to the way they prioritise what we see on our News Feed. This change includes prioritising connecting “people with their friends and family” over providing information, including news stories.
Whilst Facebook is an important tool for social interaction, it has also become the single most influential source of news and current affairs for many people. This change comes not really as a development of policy, but as a conscious reversal of their role as a distributor of news. This is what makes these changes concerning for organisations like TalkPolitics, which are fighting to defend and extend the principles of free speech and active participation in politics.
Forgetting the financial and business impact on smaller media outlets, this change has the potential to further concentrate control over the media, that we see in our day to day lives, into even fewer hands. We respect the freedom of markets, so our fight against media monopolies leads us to question Facebook’s decision to dampen the voices of causes that you care about, and solidify their own control over what news and views you are exposed to. This is especially worrying, considering the apparent political bias present in Facebook’s system. So, why is Facebook making this change now? Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that the increase in news on our feeds “is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”. However, as this article from Fortune points out, the recent controversies surrounding the spread of fake news and editorial suppression of content, go conveniently unmentioned. There has also been a reported decline in active users, especially amongst young people.
At TalkPolitics, we are fighting to ensure that people take a more active interest in the political world around them. We are fighting for a fairer media, where the power of distribution is not held solely in the hands of large corporations and wealthy individuals. We are fighting for a better democracy. TalkPolitics, along with many others, is concerned that Facebook’s latest changes will only hinder these goals.
Sources and Further Reading:
- News Feed Values, Facebook
- Adam Mosseri, News Feed FYI: Bringing People Closer Together, Facebook Newsroom, 11 January 2018
- Micheal Nunez, Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News, Gizmodo, 9 September 2016
- Johnathan Vanian, Everything to Know About Facebook's Big News Feed Change, Fortune, 12 January 2018
- Jessia Guynn, Facebook may have a grown-up problem: Young people leaving for Instagram and Snapchat, USA Today, 21 August 2017
- Micheal J Coren, Facebook will now show you more posts from friends and family than news, Quartz, 12 January 2018
Image: Alessio Jacona @Flickr