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Will Facebook decide which news you consume?

by | Feb 19, 2016 | Facebook, Online News

Just recently, Facebook made changes to its News Feed algorithm. For many people this probably isn’t big deal, but some feel the nature of this change may have serious consequences to journalistic integrity and, ultimately, what news actually gets consumed.

Last Sunday morning, I caught a documentary on CBC’s “The Sunday Edition ” with Michael Enright titled “Facebook: What’s Not to Like?”.

Produced by Ira Basen, the doc mainly focuses around the potential of Facebook being a threat to the open web. But it also touches on the influence the social media platform is having on the mainstream media, and will continue to have.

The Facebook algorithm’s recent changes mean that Facebook will now not only push news to your Facebook News Feed it predicts you’ll be interested in, but also news it predicts you’ll like and share with your friends.

From Facebook’s point of view, it makes sense–the more news people enjoy and consume via the platform, the more relevant the platform becomes in terms of overall news consumption.

For those who don’t primarily consume news in Facebook, this might not seem like a big deal.

But with over 1.6 billion Facebook users, the fact that more and more people are solely getting their news from Facebook means users may never see news content that doesn’t conform to their own points of view. Add to that the huge traffic Facebook drives, and the very independence and integrity of journalism could be in jeopardy — especially as major news outlets’ own platforms become less and less relevant.

The argument could also be made, however, that any platform that drives news engagement has merit — especially considering declining rates of engagement with news outlets overall, especially among younger demographics.

That said, listen to the documentary, decide for yourself, and let us know what you think.

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Brett Serjeantson

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