Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, we realize we are wrong.
At Elephant Journal, we’re always trying to find the loophole to the limits set by Facebook and beat the algorithm.
We experimented with trying to gain control of what we saw in our daily newsfeeds. The solution was to simply not “like” anything, confuse the program, and make it feed us a variety of news, not just from the sources we “liked.” Breaking down the silos and creating a more balanced and mindful social media were the goals. It seemed to be successful.
If only it were that easy.
Facebook has changed since then. It notices more than what we like. The business tracks what we comment upon, who we message, and ranks our engagement differently by weighting our reactions of a heart or sad face as more valued than the ol’ thumbs up.
So, a new strategy to free feeds from the algorithm might be to not like, comment, or message anyone on Facebook at all. We could just call or text instead. Problem solved, right?
Nope. Facebook is also noticing how long we spend on each person’s post, even if we never engage at all. If we slow down on any post, it is noted and added to the greater gathered information about us. Then, it feeds us more posts like that one.
To be fair, the amount of information that could be in my feed is unsurmountable. A billion people use Facebook today. By setting up this algorithm, Facebook makes our time on it more pleasurable as we are fed what we like. It is favoring the faster loading sites and eliminating the annoying ones that thrive on click bait. Nice, eh?
However, when we hear that our photos, our likes, and our time on one post is being shared and sold, the smile fades. If we would like the business of Facebook to stop spying upon us and selling our details to outside sources, we need to just. Stop. Using. It.
Otherwise, we need to make a plea to the company to change (good luck there), or create another space that brings people together around the world to share their stories. We already have Instagram, but that is owned by Facebook. Twitter, Snapchat, and other sites offer connection. Yet in those arenas, we are more limited. Have any other ideas?
Do we go back to the old system of emailing or the ancient method of mailing letters with stamps and everything? How about the times before that when one left the village…that was it, never to be heard from again?
Social media used to be like the Wild West. Now, it has become a monopoly that seems to run a black market. Is it all really that dark? Is the fate of Facebook to be either a place where we allow no privacy, where our souls are sold, or do we have more power than that?
“Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments.” ~ George Orwell, Animal Farm
Join us in finding mindful arguments and answers, even if we are learning the best language to protest something we “like.”
Author: Kate Fleming
Image: Flickr/Newtown graffiti
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Emily Bartran