While Facebook has been incredible for connecting people and keeping us updated with what’s going on in the world, it’s also insulated us into a bubble of our own opinions.
First, let me say that I love Facebook.
It’s allowed me to stay in touch with people across the world. It’s reconnected me with people I haven’t seen in years. It lets me see and celebrate life with others, from grand moments like weddings to simple joys like a great cup of coffee.
I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.
And as publishers jumped onto Facebook to distribute content, we’ve seen it morph into something else.
Facebook has been revolutionary for news.
Before Facebook, people who kept up with the news subscribed to online publishers like CNN, or they set up something like Yahoo News as their front page. They relied on the morning and evening news on TV. Or diehard readers stuck with the traditional newspaper.
Everyone else just didn’t follow the news.
But with Facebook starting to show articles in your feed, along with people sharing articles and making comments about events, you get the news whether you want to or not.
And with trending topics, you see what people are talking about.
A recent poll shows that 62% of people get their news from social media. That’s a lot. And of Facebook users, 66% of them get news from the network.
So for the average Facebook user who’s on multiple times a day, they’ll at least have an idea of what’s happening in the world, even if they don’t read about it in depth. I would say that’s a good thing.
But there’s a downside to the news you get.
Facebook is extremely biased… towards you.
It shows you more of what you like and less of what you don’t like – which can be good for creating a fun user experience. You see the more interesting posts from friends and don’t see the boring or annoying ones.
Your Facebook experience is better when you enjoy the majority of posts you see, which is good for business.
Here’s how Facebook works – take it from an online marketer.
My whole goal is to get a brand’s message in front of you. And the way to do that is to show you stuff that you like.
If I show you a post and you engage with it by reacting to it, clicking on it, commenting on it, or sharing it, Facebook takes it as a sign that you like my stuff, and will show you more of it.
If you don’t do anything to my post, well, Facebook sees that as you thinking my stuff is bad or boring, and shows you less of it.
How you interact with people and brands on Facebook determines what you see.
This can be great for auto-curating the the best from your friends and brands that you like, but it’s horrible for news.
Facebook becomes an echo chamber for your own voice.
You tell Facebook what you like, and it feeds it right back to you.
You like a certain type of news? It’ll only show you that.
You like a certain news source? It’ll only show you that.
You like a certain viewpoint? It’ll only show you that.
As you use Facebook more, the more it reaffirms your interests… and your beliefs.
This is especially true if you’re the type of person that only follows news sources that are slanted towards your view. It doesn’t make you any smarter or more aware. It just makes you more in love with yourself.
Only following news on Facebook makes you more ignorant, more angry, and turns you into that annoying person that everyone unfollows.
When you only get your news from Facebook, and you only read, like and share the articles you agree with, Facebook will only show you those articles. It gives you a very one-sided, biased, and narrow-minded view of the world – your own.
It also turns you into a more angry person – an ignorant angry person. Facebook will show you articles that make you mad. As emotional people, we like being mad. And whether a story is true or not, if it makes us mad, we react to it, comment on it, and share it. So Facebook shows even more of it.
When you read posts that make you mad and share posts that make you mad (whether they’re true or not), you become THAT person.
The person that people hide posts, unfollow, or outright unfriend. Or you attract the people who like you because you reaffirm their worldview, and you get in your own huddle hatefest complaining on Facebook.
You shut out the rest of the world, insulate yourself with those who agree with you, and become dumber from filtering news through your own interests.
Facebook was intended for the glory of cute cat pics and endless food pics, not the pit of self-absorbed ignorance.
Some ways to let Facebook enrich your life and not make you stupid:
Stop following your ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal “news” sources. They don’t report news. They report opinions that are geared towards making people angry. Stop thinking it’s real news. It’s not. You’re better than that.
Fact-check. We’re in the freaking age of information literally at your fingertips. Literally. You touch the screen a few times with your fingertips and get information. And if that’s too much work, you can just talk to your phone.
There is no excuse for the idiotic fake articles and conspiracy theories people share on Facebook. Stop being stupid. There is no excuse. None.
Subscribe to real, respected news sources. Publications that actually have journalists and intellectuals and cite sources. Here are a few I recommend starting with:
When I say subscribe, I mean intentionally visit a news site outside of Facebook on a regular basis. Because how often have you read a story from Facebook without really knowing who published it?
Listen to other views for once. Consider that you might be wrong. Or at the very least, not fully correct. Consider that the other person might have a point. If you’re the kind of person that finds something negative in everything that comes from a different point of view, then there’s something wrong with YOU.
Facebook can connect you with your friends and the world in beautiful ways. When it curates the best of that for you, it’s an incredible experience.
But don’t let it make you lazy and ignorant when it comes to news. How you view the world and how you paint it for others is far too important.