There has been a lot of debate about what Facebook’s news feed algorithm does and does not let its users see in terms of posts, whether from friends or pages they’ve liked. Now a research paper published by Facebook’s data science team has argued that ultimately, those users remain the biggest influence on what they see in their feeds, rather than mysterious algorithms.
“People’s individual choices about who to interact with and what to select matter more than any kind of algorithmic choice,” claimed researcher Eytan Bakshy. Responses are already coming from people who’ve explored these issues in the past, among them Upworthy CEO Eli Pariser, who coined the term “filter bubble” to refer to social media algorithms surrounding us with like-minded opinions. “Yes, using Facebook means you’ll tend to see significantly more news that’s popular among people who share your political beliefs,” wrote Pariser yesterday, about the new study. “This effect is smaller than you might think… But it’s also not insignificant.” We recommend reading both the articles below to get to grips with how and why.