Friday, June 10, 2016

Unsocial Media

"Perhaps a lunatic is simply a minority of one." 1984. George Orwell.

A recent article appeared online suggesting that Facebook, the modestly intrusive, massively ubiquitous internet social-interaction giant (net corporate worth - $50 billion, give or take) is not an objective observer when it comes to political expression. Former employees told stories of being encouraged to fudge statistics, ignore trends or otherwise manipulate data in the interest of partisanship. Stunning as it might seem, these whistle-blowers were not suggesting that Facebook's behind the scenes shenanigans were designed to make conservatives look better.

Here is my shocked face.

One need not be a regular user on FB to notice some interesting trends. Oh, wait...

Full disclosure - I'm up on Facebook a lot, if you define a lot as "a lot." The interactions, even those with individuals whose politics are in clear opposition to mine, are refreshing, most of the time. Okay, I've blocked a person or two (mostly because I detest name calling) but that's just recreational. I keep up with current events, chat with friends and share pictures and memes of beaches. Occasionally, a friend will mention me while she is sipping a margarita at the Rio.

I use FB to get out the word about my writing. It is likely that you are reading this because I posted the link. So far, out of the nearly 47,000 hits Bikecopblog has enjoyed, two-thirds of them came over from FB. Readers have responded to the announcement of a newly-published novel, the beginnings of a manuscript or flocked to a web site to support fellow Wild Child authors.

I'm certainly not an FB rookie. So when I saw the news article I was already familiar with Mr. Zuckerman's creation.

But, wait!

A few days ago I clicked on a cop posting. It was one of the feel-good stories, of an officer racing to save someone. It was nice work. When it concluded, I returned to the main page.

Suggested Videos

"Cop shoots 4 year old. 'Mommy, am I going to die?'"

I was, of course, unamused. Let me first acknowledge that the accidental shooting of a four year old (the officer was shooting at her dog... I can't imagine) is deeply disturbing. It is a blessing she survived, and it would be highly unusual circumstances for that officer to remain employed. 

I just want to know - why would FB suggest to me, having read an "Officer Friendly" story, one where the  cop is almost certainly the villain? Why would anyone, their software included, think there was something to be gained?

I'm not worth $50 billion, so my guess doesn't count.

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