Welcome to the eNewsletter you never subscribed to.
You Are Facebook’s Most Biased Curator: Last month Gizmodo released a report claiming that Facebook’s curators, the ones behind the Trending Topics section, suppressed conservative news and used an “injection tool” to feature selected stories that were not actually trending. Naturally, this raised a lot of questions, most importantly: Facebook has editors? The answer, of course, is yes. Facebook’s curators control the Trending Topics that all users see, and there are a lot of users—167 million just in the US.
It’s a scary thought, realizing that the news you’re viewing may have been manipulated by some faceless dude drinking Jamba Juice and playing ping pong at Facebook’s headquarters. But Vox brought up an even scarier thought. Curators aren’t necessarily a bad thing (granted they’re actually serving up a wide range of stories and opinions). The bad thing is an echo chamber: when you only consume news that already aligns with your own beliefs.
Unfortunately, it’s too late. We’re all already living in individual echo chambers of our own design. You see, Facebook’s algorithm was created to make the platform less biased. Instead of deciding which content to publish in your news feed for you, you decide. Based on your personal connections, content you engage with and articles you share, Facebook’s algorithm serves you similar content, ensuring you’re living in your own cocoon where you agree with everything you consume. Scary, right?
So yes, let’s absolutely question Facebook’s curation tactics to make sure we’re actually being served unbiased trending topics. But also, maybe we should focus more on the magic echo chamber algorithm. Or, and I can’t believe that I (vocal proclaimer of the theory that Facebook = Big Brother) am the one saying this, maybe we should all stop attacking the platform that we choose to use and instead foster a broader view of the world for ourselves by seeking out a variety of opinions and ideas? #woke
Welcome to the Dank Ages: Despite the recent success of Dat Boi and “Don’t talk to me or my son ever again,” the peak year of the meme was actually 2011, according to recent analysis. In fact, we have now entered the age of Dank Memes, parodies that are intentionally overdone or cliche. If you’re wondering how to speak meme, this glossary is helpful af (btw we are all normies). And while you’re reading glossaries, check out this one on fanspeak.
Podcast Update: A while back I did a post that was entirely about podcasts. While I continue to cry at the gym listening to This American Life, I’ve now added awkwardly laughing in public to my repertoire. 2 Dope Queens just finished up their first season and it was hilarious and empowering. If you’re looking for more female power, Girlboss, hosted by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, features interviews with successful girl bosses. And totally unrelated is More Perfect, a Radiolab spinoff that explores how the Supreme Court has shaped the nation.
Stay classy, nerds.