Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The cause was Zuckerberg's constant drive toward more growth and greater engagement, to the point that nothing else mattered. The result was inevitable: "The models that maximize engagement also favor controversy, misinformation, and extremism: put simply, people just like outrageous stuff." While I would be the first to agree that this was irresponsible, it is hardly the first irresponsible use of media to foster divisiveness, rumours, and hate. Tabloid journalism, talk radio and cable news all engaged in the same practices for the same reasons. It isn't, in other words, the specific medium that's the problem, nor even some specific individuals or companies. It's the system of incentives that's the problem, and could probably be addressed by (say) putting limits on scale (or at least, creating diminishing returns). But don't expect to read anything so radical as that in MIT Technology Review. Related: Columbia Journalism Review, What should we do about the algorithmic amplification of disinformation?

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 15, 2024 12:50 a.m.

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