The Trouble With Algorithms

There’s a notion going round that not only should Facebook not interfere with the newsfeed to stop Fake News, but it is incapable of doing so.
This is absolute nonsense.
I follow maybe 300 people on Facebook. I regularly see updates from about a dozen.
Sometimes, that’s because people haven’t posted recently. But usually it’s because Facebook decided I don’t need to see their updates.
So whenever you hear that interfering with the Newsfeed would amount to censorship, remember Facebook is already interfering.
In fact, there’s an argument that interference is what caused the whole problem in the first place.
As I wrote this article, reports came in that Facebook wants users to report fake news.
This is doomed to fail.
Facebook, like most of Silicon Valley, is addicted to automation. Measure likes, shares, and comments, then weaponise that data.
Well yes, but it also allows the system to be gamed.
Facebook isn’t going to mistake the New York Times or Washington Post for fakery.
But what happens when a mob decides to tag real news as fake from smaller news outlets?
Go on. Try phoning Facebook and talking to a human being with the power to override an algorithmic decision.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.