Allegations that Facebook “suppressed” conservative news, first reported by Gizmodo, quickly snowballed into broader charges that Facebook “censors” viewpoints its employees doesn’t like.
Facebook is the first access point to the internet for hundreds of millions if not a billion people around the world. And for millennials in the U.S., it is their primary source for political news. Some have suggested that the site could actually tilt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Hence Facebook takes these allegations and the damage they’ve done to Facebook’s image among conservatives seriously.
Users will never be able to control the “Trending” section of the site, which Facebook insists is handled objectively as possible through curators (and, apparently, a lot of help from Google). But you do have some control over your news feed, which is generated by Facebook’s algorithm “Edgerank.” There are things you can do to influence your feed in hopes of seeing a diverse flow of information that doesn’t simply confirm your biases. Here are 5:
- Get rid of the noise.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize and add the people you want to get less news from to your “acquaintances” list. You’ll see their posts a lot less often and — best of all — they’ll have no idea you’ve demoted them.
- Let Facebook do less of the picking for you.
On the left column of your home page, under Favorites, next to News Feed click the arrow and select “Most Recent”.
This won’t turn off Facebook’s algorithm completely, but it will make it more likely you’ll see a diversity of sources in your feed.
- Trust someone.
Find a few people you respect who have a different political leanings than you and ask them for one Facebook page to follow. Just one? That’s enough. Once you like the page, Facebook will help from there by suggesting a few pages with similar leanings.
Of course, you’re relying on Facebook’s recommendations. But if you don’t trust Facebook at all, this would be a good time to delete your account.
- Prioritize the new blood.
Click on the down arrow in the upper right corner of any Facebook page and select “News Feed Preferences” and then select “Prioritize who to see first” and then on the dropdown menu select “Pages only.”
Now click on those new pages you just added to your stream — along with the other valuable news sources you think help keep you informed.
5. Teach Facebook what you like.
When you see something you like, click on it, comment on it, interact with it. Facebook exists to keep you in Facebook and will reward your clicks with similar content. And if you get a post you don’t like, you can tell Facebook by clicking on that subtle little down arrow, which will show you this:
Yes, you’re sort of “censoring” your feed. But at least it’s you doing it.
[Image by Turinboy | Flickr]