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Social media experiments or curating YOUR likes, subs and follows

kat · 2 · 13358

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Offline kat

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Social media is both a blessing and bane. A blessing because users are able to access multiple 'news' sources from a single location. Bane because users see just a fraction of the channels and outlets they are subscribed to being, through no fault of their own, none-the-wiser to the fact.

It doesn't matter the platform of choice, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc., they all do the same thing in that they actively throttle and filter feeds to reduce the amount of 'noise' users are subject to (posts service providers deem to be unwanted, spam, junk etc.), often explained as efforts to "improve the end user experience of the service".

In practice this simply means subscribers see but a fraction of the posts they subscribed to receiving (and this is notwithstanding the presumption this presents, of the service provider acting as a content filter, or content 'censor', an action that indirectly suggests users are not capable of determining what they want to see), or they're seeing older content because of the feedback loop this creates - popular posts remain popular because they're popular (constantly visible).

For content creators this creates a huge looming problem, a reality that means but a fraction of their notices are even seen; a indie game developer with a thousand followers on Twitter for example should expect 1000 page-views of a particular tweet every time one is posted - the single message goes out to, and is therefore seen by, all their subscribers.

What happens instead, with all the system wide filters in place, is a significant reduction in views and notifications to the effect that the content creator might now only achieve a 10% viewing, 100 pairs of eyeballs, leaving a colossal 90% of the audience having no idea the creator has even been posting (its own problem[1]) - an important patch to a game, a texture update, who knows, they never see the message.

The suggested solution to this is for creators to post more. But all this does is give the platform holders more content to block filter, whilst making increases to the amount of people still not seeing the content they wanted to be notified about. Its still a 10%/90% split, albeit with differing gross numbers. And this is notwithstanding the increased time and energy the creator has to spend generating content for social media rather than for project development. It's more time, effort and energy surrendered to platform holders than creator projects.

The ideal solution to this situation would be for Social media platforms to remove filters they control and instead provide users the tools they need to better manage what they want to see or not, give the individual control rather than having that material controlled, benevolently, on their behalf. Some already do this to an extent, Facebook and Twitter for example, but in doing so the feature essentially sits atop deeply entrenched service wide throttling and filtering that has the intended effect of reducing posts the user is exposed to even further.

There may be ways to bypass these filters and controls, unfortunately they're not easy to find so they can be adjusted or disabled. Even where they are available, getting the word out is neigh impossible when such messages aren't seen in the first place... because they're being filtered.

[1] a typical exchange might go something like this;
- "We are. Are you're not seeing them?".
- "Our messages might be getting blocked by [service provider]".
- "Check your settings or notifications".
- "Unfortunately there's nothing we can do".
- "U FIX IT!!!!!".
- */block.

Offline kat

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It isn't just Facebook updating their policies with respect to "trusted sources" and "fake news", but they're the only outlet being reasonable open about their intentions to 'curate' social feeds and what Users see;

- News Feed FYI: Helping Ensure News on Facebook Is From Trusted Sources
- News Feed FYI: Bringing People Closer Together

Of course for the first the biggest issues are "who watches the watchers" and "activist 'trust/review bombing'". For the second, page and group owners are going to find their content 'curated' from feeds, whilst restricts organic reach, because they're not "family and friends". Of course this can be bypassed purchasing advertising (which is one of the reasons Users said they wanted feeds filtered!).

As with the Net Neutrality debate, this isn't about Users 'freedoms' and 'rights', as the discussion is disingenuously and deliberately framed (getting people to act upon stronger, more manipulative 'emotion' or 'denial' as a motivating force. It's about controlling the information Users are exposed to and consume (in the broadest sense, what can the user be 'sold', be that a product or political point of view) and who has the greater access and control to Users as a consequence.