• Patrick Scott Patterson

Social Media Algorithms -

This will get interesting.

Following a Facebook whistleblower testimony, there's a lot of chatter about social media algorithms and the potential harm they can cause in society today.

On one hand, I am not real comfortable with the idea of our government getting their hands into a public platform where people can come together and exchange thoughts and ideas. That sort of thing makes me very leery and would potentially infringe on the Constitution.

But on the other hand, I can see the validity in the discussion.

I've been thinking a lot about social media algorithms for the past several months, ever since a Facebook friend mentioned that I only seem to post on her feed when she talks about eBay. It made me realize the only posts Facebook showed me from her WERE the ones where she talked about eBay, which is a topic I often talk about myself.

So I played with it a little. I started posting more about certain things and less about others. And sure enough, the algorithm started to shift. The tone and mood changed. I saw more about the topics I was posting about often and less about that which I had started to ignore.

On the surface, it doesn't sound bad, right? I mean, I'm rather happy that I no longer miss a key piece of Dallas Cowboys news because everyone is posting the same old cat meme. I'd rather my feed be full of Drew Barrymore clips than Tucker Carlson and I'm quite glad that's the case.

But the algorithm doesn't stop there.

If someone questions the safety of COVID vaccines, the algorithm feeds them more content that aims them down that rabbit hole. If someone is critical of a political leader, they are fed more content that paints them in a bad light. Even if someone's tone is darker, the algorithms tend to feed them stuff that keeps them in that spot rather than potentially help them out of it.

And I know a thing or... 200 about what it's like when Internet hive minds start to think certain things. Misinformation grows and grows, even to the point of inciting others to take action and cross lines, all while thinking they are doing the right thing. And it's all fed to them by the algorithms.

So maybe this does need to be discussed, especially in a world today where misinformation seems to run more rampant than ever, even though we all have instant access to it and the ability to fact-check in the blink of an eye.

I'll be curious where it goes.

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