Article in FT: Does Facebook bend the trends that govern our news?

Vitaly Repin vitaly_repin at
Mon May 16 07:11:10 UTC 2016


I have found an interesting article in the latest FT weekend (14-15
May 2016) titled "Does Facebook bend the trends that govern our news?"

I was able to open it with the link:

But most of FT content is under paywall and it can happen that the
link is not functioning for all.

I think the content can be of interest for free software supporters:


- There is a suspicion that FB manipulates "trending topics" which are
shown to the user in order to shape the political views of the users
- In fact, FB now acts as a "gatekeeper" ( See: ) and
(contrary to traditional media) this function of FB is not supervised
by any organizations
- In traditional media, gatekeeper function is editor's
responsibility. In FB this is "algorithm"
- And the algorithm is proprietary.


- When TV was a new medium, it was dominated by public broadcasters
under the eye of regulators, who could watch what editors choose to
put on the evening news. But social media is unregulated and
proprietary algorithms are harder to understand.
- Raju Narisetti, senior vice-president of strategy at News Corp,
which owns newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the Times and
the Sun, says publishers also have little insight into how Facebook’s
algorithm works or why certain stories appear where they do. “There is
opaqueness in the way choices seem to be made and when questioned the
fallback position is always: ‘it’s an algorithm and it decides on its
own’. That rings pretty hollow,” he says.
- Facebook has inserted itself into the relationship that publishers
used to have with readers, argues Ken Doctor of Newsonomics. “There
are going to be far fewer gatekeepers deciding what counts as news. In
the old days, those decisions were made by a variety of people working
at newspapers, radio and television stations,” he says.

WBR & WBW, Vitaly

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