I recently read an article that opened my eyes wider to just how manipulative the algorithms are on Facebook. I’m guessing similar extra long math equations are also used to determine what ads show up on the side panes of almost ALL the sites I find myself traversing on the internet. As I was reading / understanding the article (click here to read, then come on back for a spell), a couple of things about my FB interactions became clear.
First off, all those deep, meaningful posts I’ve liked and shared have been used to box me into seeing only the content the FB computers “think” I would enjoy, based solely on what I “liked”. My FB experience was being tailored to the person a computer mathematically calculated me to be. Secondly, I was sharing and liking these posts in order to spread information and the occasional cat video to my FB connections – but, because of the algorithms, the posts were largely going unseen by my “friends” because their robots have filtered what THEY see based on their “like” pattern. So, if they hadn’t previously “liked” anything relating to what I’d shared, then for the most part, they weren’t ever going to see the content of the post. Does anyone else find this level of control creepy? No?
The whole concept made me stop and think about the life I live online. It made me wonder what other computer generated equations are there tracking my every click, then using that information to limit my choices? Just how easily have I been lead through the maze toward some cheese I might not have wanted otherwise?
I realize that there is no such thing as free will on the internet, nor anywhere where some math equation is deciding my personality, my habits, what’s “best” for me, based on the (perhaps not so) random click of the mouse.
All of this makes me believe I need to give up social media for good. I’ve taken breaks here and there but understanding how deep the rabbit hole goes makes me want to back out completely. Perhaps find a nice stretch of beach somewhere in a place that is still enjoying the newness of indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, where the living is easy far from corporate algorithms in white lab coats.