Facebook news. Photo by: Facebook / YouTube
Facebook news. Photo by: Facebook / YouTube

Algorithms and Ranking News Based On Popularity Is Not Healthy for Consumers

Facebook announced today their plans to change the ranking of news stories to prioritize them based on trustworthy value of the publisher.

As a journalist that works hard on providing accurate news on the Web, I can see from a distance the problems and issues that will take place with this new concept.

The last presidential election was heavily influenced by advertising misinformation on Facebook. That will only increase with these new plans.

In reality, journalism is not a popularity contest with the outlet that has the most money paying for advertising to be seen the most. Journalism is an unbiased look at the world. That cannot be achieved with these new plans to allow fake users, (people who setup additional accounts, similar to the election cycle,) and give them more access to inflate statistics.

It does raise an important red flag, and that is consumers should actively search out different outlets to see their slant on new stories. Sadly, many people will not take additional steps to acquire the news they consume. The responsibility of providing multiple sides of a debate is on Facebook, and other platforms.

One positive element to this poor decision by Facebook is our own ability as an Internet platform to be the change in the world that we find needs corrected. If I see that the Facebook website is making a bad decision by allowing their users to vote on the most trustworthy news source, then I need to continue to report multiple sides to each topic. To get upset, and throw my hands in the air, does not help solve the problem. Rather, reporting news from multiple sides of a debate does help overall.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.

Here’s how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source.” – Mark Zuckerberg

It is clear that the user experience at Facebook can be corrected by providing all the posts and articles people post to the main timeline in a categorized manner. That is what we do here on our site. After all of the articles go through the homepage, it is later available to find through search.

The problem at Facebook is not the level of trustworthiness within the news organization, but rather the control over independent voices that can raise different viewpoints on subjects.

My theory is that social media in general has been heavily invested in to silence the masses.

When I review the expansion of the Internet, I see a trend of silencing independent voices that create change in the world.

In 1995 the World Wide Web first gets going with the use of email and other basic functions. At this time the government is not concerned with the Internet, and continue to control the masses with programming on television, radio and within print publications.

In 2000 blogging starts to rise, but only a section of the total population is sharing their thoughts and data online. At this point it does raise flags within the government. They start to see the trend of people thinking independently. It is my theory that they start to look for ways to control the Internet by limiting free speech and independent thought.

In 2005 Facebook and other social networks start to obtain heavy amounts of traffic on the Web. The people with power and financial resources see an opportunity to limit free speech with blogging, and support social networks to have more control over content.

At this time we start to see Google’s search algorithm favor those with more financial resources in their ranking system. Not only are companies with more money getting their narrative out to more people, but independent voices are being limited.

In 2010, we start to see the peak of social networking and a decrease in independent writing online.

Think about it, how many times have you gone to search for a topic on the Web and saw a tweet or a Facebook post in the search results?

My personal experience is that I have to search through the social network to find this content, and it is usually slanted by companies or people paying to have their content promoted. The overall search process on social networks feels so limited, that I rarely take the time to search on their platforms for data. So, what does that say about independent voices? That means I have to hope that publishers that have paid for advertising have not deleted comments within the social media posts to find independent voices. Does that sound effective?

Or does having a personal blog setup with proper SEO seem more effective to share trustworthy news? This provides people the chance that read and write content to have their voice heard by larger audiences.

In 2015-2016 the United States enters an era of mass misinformation on Facebook and other social networks. The 2016 presidential election was heavily influenced from international advertising. Free speech is being limited, as well as bias reporting becomes even more popular.

In 2018-2020 the American people begin to revolt against the bias reporting from news outlets and begin to start to find ways by sharing their voice in the streets, at town hall meetings, and online.

In 2025 I predict that Facebook will continue to decrease in popularity, and smaller websites, like our site, will rise in the wake of prioritizing news content. We will continue to gain traffic as Facebook pushes people away by trying to limit free speech.

Grab your bootstraps and get ready for the free speech revolution. The change will have to come from within all of us. It sure won’t take place with companies that want to control the way we think with limited content.

Watch over the Facebook video released in December 2017 on YouTube, and browse over the post Mark Zuckerberg made on Friday, January 19, 2018.