Monday, October 30, 2017

Facebook is Evil

Traditional news outlets (newspapers, TV news, radio news) were dedicated to reporting the "truth".  While it can be argued that some sources slant their coverage one way or another, most western media try to be honest in their reporting.  This honesty has a few characteristics:

  • Report the facts, not opinion.  If an article is opinionated, identify it by calling it an editorial or opinion piece.
  • Report all the news, do not just pick and choose what to report.
  • Do not let commercial considerations influence reporting
  • And probably a few more that I would have learned if I studied journalism instead of engineering at school
Facebook is becoming people's main source of news, but they are an evil source of information.  This is probably not because they want to be evil, but their business model demands it.  Facebook wants you to spend lots of time on their site so they can advertise things to you.  Therefore, they want to know your likes and dislikes, and want to know what interests you.  So they only show you news and opinion that interests you - things you really like and things that get you angry or concerned.  They also show you comments on these pieces of news - the positive comments make you think you are right and the negative comments make you angry and so you read more comments.  You are getting a biassed opinionated snapshot of some of the news.

On top of this, Facebook allows people to buy ads with no oversight, like Russian operatives, Climate Change Deniers, Big Corporations.  You will only see these ads if you might agree with them.  It is unclear whether you are seeing news or ads, adding to readers' confusion.

People who rely on Facebook are being brainwashed by the Facebook algorithms into thinking they are right, that there is no other valid point of view except the ones they know, and that most people agree with them.  They are also missing all news that Facebook censors out of their news feed in order to keep you interested.

This is amplifying the issues of today:
  • Climate Change is manmade?
  • Can muslims be good citizens of western countries?
  • Should American government help with health care?
  • Is free trade good for workers?
So I think Facebook is evil - a biassed commercially driven unregulated source of news - along with being a good way to find out what your old school buddies are doing these days.

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