I would like to take this opportunity to vent a little on a phenomenon that I witness daily on Facebook and it’s driving me absolutely crazy. Last December, Facebook changed their algorithm, which gave viewing priority to liked and shared links over actual user made content. This change turned the social media platform into more of a blogging and news site. Sure, it’s great to get your daily dose of news mixed in with your friend’s updates, but the problem rises, which content is being selected to be exposed.
The Facebook world is full of lazy people; the lurkers and scrollers who don’t necessarily interact with posts, but mindlessly wheel through hours and hours of updates. A recent study by Upworthy shows that a majority of the people sharing these articles hasn’t even spent enough time on these sites to read more than the headline. This is where the problem occurs. Websites like The Onion and The Daily Currant have been writing satirical news for years. They don’t try to fool their readers into believing their stories, hell they even advertising themselves as satire! But when these links get posted on people’s newsfeeds, Facebook users read the headline at face value and assume these articles to be true.
In the past month alone, I have seen COUNTLESS posts and reaction statuses of infuriated citizens, appalled by the fact that ‘Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colarado’s First Week of Legalization’, ‘Sochi Olympians Being Blood Tested to Check Homosexuality Levels’, and my favorite yet, ‘Boy Kills Brother Over Flappy Bird High Score’. And no, the person responsible for the Olympic ring mishap was not assassinated by the Russian government! An Annapolis police officer even testified that marijuana had killed 37 people in Colorado in a fight against legalization, following the satirical post. We are taught endlessly in school not to believe everything we read on the internet, but when people click these links, barely even read the content posted from a seemingly believable news company, they take it as truth.
Who exactly is to blame for this new trend? It can’t be the writers because they have been doing this for years and never dealt with this problem before. I believe it’s a combination of the state of Facebook’s priority promoting of ‘news articles’ and the viewers fault. Before you believe everything you read, or don’t, yet still share to your wall, it’s a good idea to research a little where the information is coming from.
Until next time!