Be Careful; Facebook is watching who you watch

Posted: February 21, 2012 in ethics, newmedia, space, technology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever wondered why certain posts by your facebook friends show up on your feed, while others are noticeably absent? What you see and what you don´t, is actually no coincidence. In fact, facebook disseminates a lot of the information that is shared among its users. The communication which takes place on facebook is aided by an algorhithm called Edgerank. Edgerank ranks users status updates, determining which posts show up on other users’ screen. This is done by calculating users’ facebook activity in terms of a set of variables – often referred to as Affinity, Weight and Age.

Edgerank mediates the connectedness, interactivity and frequency of posting, tagging, liking, commenting, upload of pictures etc. It does so by calculating and qualifying your actions with a certain score according to the activity. But to what extent?

Edgerank arguably is meant to optimize your facebook experience, by making sure that what you see will actually catch and maintain your interest. For example, it makes sense that you are not as interested in the posts by peripheral friends as by those close to you. In optimizing the users facebook experience by means of the Edgerank algorithm, there is a ranking and connecting process going on that is outside of user control.

This has severe impacts on our conception of social life, how we interact – and, indeed how information is presented to us. Edgerank presents us with a certain set of rules, a lens through which we see, obtain and publish information. But who defines the scope of things and why are these not explicitly spelled out?



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