Wednesday, 14 September 2016

SumTips: 4 Reasons to Beware of the Facebook Algorithm

A letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway's Aftenposten
[Source: Aftenposten]
Facebook has gotten its share of the spotlight this September—and the news has been far from in the social media platform’s favor. More than once the famed Facebook algorithm has produced results in need of human correction:

1.    The Terror of War: Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten posted Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of children fleeing a Vietnam War napalm attack, only to find the widely-received photograph removed on grounds of child nudity. The act elicited the criticism of Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister; the image has since been reposted and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has apologized.

2.    “September 11: The footage that ‘proves bombs were planted in Twin Towers’”: A hoax article from The Daily Star topped Facebook’s trending stories as the 9/11 anniversary approached. Facebook’s algorithm had defaulted to a story that blamed bombs—not airplanes—for the falling of New York’s Twin Towers in the second such mishap since the platform did away with human curation of news in late August.

3.    Black Lives Matters activist Shaun King: When activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King posted a racist message that had been directed at him, King was the one to be temporarily banned from Facebook. King’s response:
“I love Facebook. I was an early user and have been on here for over a decade, but I regularly have friends complain that when they post about the racism and bigotry they face, THEY end up getting suspended instead of the person who harassed them.  
It’s almost like a cruel joke. 
Well, it just happened to me. Earlier this morning I received a horrible email. I posted the email WITHOUT the email address of the person who sent it, then a few hours later was told that I was banned from posting for at least 24 hours because of it. 
This is completely ridiculous. Facebook needs to be much more sensible and intelligent about how it does these things. I have complained to my friends who work there and will see what happens.” 
King’s account was reinstated within hours, which he contributes in part to the connections he has with the company.

4.    Northern Ireland revenge porn: For every image Facebook removes erroneously, there is one that it leaves up unjustly. A 14-year-old victim of revenge porn endured a naked photo of herself posted to a “shame page” from November 2014 until January 2016. Facebook and the man suspected of posting the photo are now being sued.

The next time you login to Facebook, remember that what you see may haunt you, be untrue or never be seen again. Surf secure and stay Rando!

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