The other day I took a trip to a park. Just to get out of the house for a bit and get fresh air. I walked around for a while. Then turned the corner of the drab gray brick building. On the wall rested an old familiar site. A payphone. I took a closer look. A broken payphone. It is rare to spot one of these anymore. I have not seen a working one in many years. But there sat a broken down old payphone. That still accepted coins. This is what people used before cellular phones came into existence. In order to talk to someone while out you had to locate a payphone; then dig through your purse, or pocket, for the correct change. The operator was big on a person having the correct change for the phone call. I even at one time got those prepaid cards for use at payphones. They had lots of fees and charges associated with them.
I snapped the picture with my smart cellular phone. Then I did what we all do now; I shared it with social media. I even came home and signed into Facebook. I updated my profile picture and then posted this picture with a comment. The thing of it was the profile picture got immediate reactions. The payphone picture; not one. I scratched my head. Then I remembered an incident a few years ago. I had just posted to Facebook and asked a relative if they had seen the post. They said “No.” I asked how that was possible. Only to be told, “It’s not in my feed. I dont see it.” They sent me a picture of their screen. I sent them one of mine. And sure enough it showed on mine and not on theirs.
So, I looked at my post and figured the same thing must have happened here. I posted. And it did not appear in anyones feed. Probably because it was the first thing I posted in a long time. I checked my feed. What stories appeared. Then looked at peoples individual pages. I liked a few things. Then went back to my feed. Sure enough more things started to appear. So my engagement with the social media influenced what I saw on the page. I checked into it. In their own documention Facebook admits that the posts I see in my feed are, “influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. The number of comments, likes, and reactions a posts receives and what kind of post it is can also make it more likely to appear higher up in your news feed.” If I go through and like and comment on a friends posts on glitter; then I will see their posts on glitter high up in my feed. If I stop liking and commenting on a friends feed; their posts drop down, or even off, my feed. Other social media companies use similar algorithms on their feeds and recommended posts.
Our society is no longer reliant on payphones to communicate. Our news is no longer only gotten from newspapers, the nightly news on television, friends and family. We are connected twenty four seven to technology. To information. To stories and news feeds. If I start to look up or like posts about glitter. Soon my world on social media is glitter. I see nothing else. My entire world could then be about the good or bad of glitter. By the time that happens it could take a lot to break me out of the glitter cycle. Social media companies make a lot of money off our information. They want to keep us hooked on getting that information. Our daily fix of glitter posts. If they removed the algorithm and let all posts appear in the feed in the order they were posted; then a person could get a more balanced source of information.
*Anything can replace “glitter” in my example. I do not work for any social media company. Facebook is a trademark of Facebook. It is used here in an informational and educational manner. A criticism of their algorithm. Fair Use allows for such use of their name, and the quote in that case.