Facebook Is a Terrible Gatekeeper

Stop Reading What Facebook Tells You To Read – Mashable

By going to websites as a deliberate reader, you’re making a conscious choice about what you want a media outlet to be—as opposed to letting an algorithm choose the thing you’re most likely to click on. Or! As opposed to encouraging a world in which everyone is suckered into reading something with a headline optimized by a social media strategist armed with nothing more than “best practices” for conning you into a click.

There was a time when prevailing minds on the Internet debated about “The Cult of the Amateur” and how any Tom, Dick, and Harry having a website or publishing an ebook or posting a song on MySpace was going to be the end of culture as we knew it. Facebook has made all of that seem quaint.

Before publishing houses, record labels, newspaper editors filtered the noise, acting as gatekeepers and sorting the good from the bad, the legitimate from the meh, the real from the fake. Now culture is driven by data and algorithms spurred by sensational headlines.

In 2001’s Republic.com, Cass Sunstein feared the creation of a Daily Me as the result of a democratic Internet. The concern was that the online world promoted isolation into tribes, choirs, and echo chambers insulated from competing thought. Facebook is a result of that – it’s a way for users to digest the firehose that is the World Wide Web through a one-stop-shop, often in a way tailored to fit however we have defined ourselves through our friendships, our likes, our comments, our shares. For many it is a primary means of getting news (67% of Americans somewhat relied on social media for news last year). And when Facebook identifies you as a thirty something white guy with right leaning political views, guess what angle it’s going to feed you? Or who they’re going to sell access to your feed to?

Breaking free of that requires work. It requires manual typing and visiting sites that look different from one another or update at random times throughout the week. Or using an RSS reader like Feedly. Yeah, you’re probably still going to stick with what you know and like, but you’ll at least challenge yourself to go beyond a format that rewards sensationalism and outrage to reach the lowest common denominator in as few words as possible.

Actually browsing the web doesn’t just allow you to be a better reader, it asks authors to be better writers. Clickbait headlines and regurgitated Reddit thread listicles are lazy writing, but profitable. If you put your time toward quality work you reward quality effort.

[Y]ou’ll give them a reason to be different, and interesting, and independent, and to carry out some kind of mission that isn’t aping what everyone else does just to stay alive in the 2018 media climate. You’ll make everything just a wee bit better. You’ll incentivize them to keep you coming back for more. And you’ll be taking more control, and opting less for the control Facebook takes from you, and everyone else.

UPDATE: Old favorite Kottke.org had a great post back in April about how “Blogging is most certainly not dead” and had a great quote from Kari at karigee.com:

I also keep it out of spite, because I refuse to let social media take everything. Those shapeless, formless platforms haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it. I’ve blogged about this many times, but I still believe it: When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.

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