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Why Facebook Won't Let You Control Your Own News Feed


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In testimony to U.S. Congress and abroad, whistleblower Frances Haugen has pointed to Facebook's algorithm as central to the social networks problems, arguing that it systematically amplifies and rewards hateful, divisive, misleading, and sometimes outright false content by putting it at the top of users feeds.

Credit: Washington Post illustration; Facebook screenshots; iStock

In at least two experiments over the years, Facebook has explored what happens when it turns off its controversial news feed ranking system — the software that decides for each user which posts they'll see and in what order, internal documents show. That leaves users to see all the posts from all of their friends in simple, chronological order.

Both tests appear to have taught Facebook's researchers the same lesson: Users are better off with Facebook's software calling the shots.

The internal research documents, some previously unreported, help to explain why Facebook seems so wedded to its automated ranking system, known as the news feed algorithm. That system is under intense public scrutiny.

From The Washington Post
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