News Feed FYI: Showing Fewer Hoaxes

Erich Owens, Udi Weinsberg,, Facebook Blog, Jan 21, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm sure it's not in reaction to my recent complaints (heh) but Facebook is announcing changes that will slow the propagation of fake news. This is hard for Facebook because everything in the service is about generating feed-forwards, comments and reactions. Facebook has none of the inherent friction a proper network would have, because it's bad for advertising. And this new change is no exception - it's based on users giving Facebook more information. So the stories will still circulate - they'll just be 'flagged' as fake. Of course, if Facebook were really serious, it would clamp down on clickbait. But again, advertising. More: the Guardian.

I've been complaining recently about the social cesspool sites like Facebook and Twitter have become. This has led some people to suggest that I've recanted connectivism. But these social media sites are not 'connectivist' in any reasonable sense of the term. First, they are not actually networks - they are destination sites intended to lure people in and keep them there. Second, they are not about interactivity, they are about publishing - they are content distribution sites where the main means of propagation is the 'share' button. As a result, content is not requested or 'pulled' by users - it is pushed with increasing insistence into the user's space. The user has little control over this (try deleting 'Facebook friends'). Related: Spark, on how social media could be changing your child's sense of self.

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