How Facebook kills the feed

Facebook’s recommendation algorithm is a closely guarded secret. Newly leaked documents shed light on the company’s formula for prioritizing posts in an individual user’s feed.

What happened: The Washington Post analyzed internal documents and interviewed employees to show how the company’s weighting of emojis, videos, subject matter, and other factors have evolved in recent years. The Post ’s analysis followed up on an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal .

Why it matters: Facebook’s membership of nearly 3 billion monthly active users famously exceeds the populations of the largest countries. What information it distributes, and to whom, has consequences that span personal, national, and global spheres. Both users and watchdogs need to understand how the company decides what to promote and what to suppress. Revealing all the details would invite people to game the algorithm, but some degree of transparency is necessary to avoid dire impacts including suicides and pogroms.

We’re thinking: Internet companies routinely experiment with new features to understand how they contribute to their business. But Facebook’s own research told the company that what was good for its bottom line was poisonous for society. The company hasn’t been able to strike a healthy balance on its own. As a society, we need to figure out an appropriate way to regulate social media.

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A lot of the use cases in recommendation system are very annoying. I’d rather search and not be feed with contents with click bait. Sometimes I think recommendation is a nice thing to have, but embed it to the product and make it the only way for users to navigate through is a broken product.

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