The Western Journal conducted a new study of Facebook traffic and found evidence that the recent changes to the company’s newsfeed algorithm is having a negative impact on conservative sites, while still increasing traffic to the more liberal sites.
The Facebook “trusted sources” algorithm is meant to help curve the stream of misinformation and “polarization.” Despite the company’s attempt at preserving or presenting the truth, most conservative sites have since experienced a significant decrease in traffic.
Of the 50 sites studied, half conservative and half liberal, the conservative sites saw an average 14 percent decrease, while the left-leaning sites increased by an average of 2 percent.
The 12 conservative sites that were the most right-leaning lost an average of over 27 percent from Facebook. Facebook engagement totals in February dropped as much as 55 percent for some publishers.
Although the drop in traffic is likely linked to the changes in the algorithm that are designed to limit conservative news, it could also be a result in a general drop in overall usage of the site.
Facebook continues to be embroiled in controversies that range from censorship to accusations of genocide. The posts that appear in a user’s newsfeeds’ are being monitored for content beyond political messages.
The United Nations has investigated the social media website’s influence and role in hate speech that resulted in violence in the Rakhine province.
Facebook is working with the new government of Myanmar, developing programs for public safety. They are with local leaders working to monitor community safety.
These events as well as suicide videos and issues with child endangerment are just some of the problems that Facebook is attempting to resolve with new policies.
New data shows that the social media giant has lost 18 percent in the amount of time spent on its core platform. This means less ad revenue for the company, and some suggest it is the beginning of the end. The new changes to the algorithm are being blamed for the losses, but the drop in interest could also be a result of the censorship that the company is engaging in.
For those seeking conservative news, the new changes to the newsfeed can be offset by the user’s preferences and the priority settings within the account. Users can select which publishers they wish to see first, and by setting favorites, can ensure that their news stories do not get buried in among the posts by their friends and family.
Censorship on the Facebook platform is likely to continue. In response to Russian influence and advertisements, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that they are doing their best to defend against nations that attempt to spread misinformation.
This may mean that others are going to be blocked as well, with many users claiming that their posts are shadow-banned and blocked because of critical opinions of the government. As the Facebook AI becomes more capable, the system will be able to recognize individual objects inside of video frames and still images.
This technology will be used to monitor and block content, without the need for any human reviewing process.
Facebook is currently developing this artificial intelligence system to recognize when posts contain suicidal content, in an effort to deliver fast and effective help to those who might need it immediately.
The detection system already automatically flags content that contains expressions of suicidal thoughts for human review. So far, the company has worked with first responders to conduct wellness checks hundreds of times based on proactive detection.
The AI systems that are being developed by the tech giants are being met with mixed reviews. Many can see the merit in preventing human deaths and lawsuits.
The experts still believe that automation will not be in direct competition with workers, but for the most part will only change the way we work and life.
With new proof that the algorithm can be used to target groups with such accuracy, social media platforms will have to decide how much freedom they are going to allow their users. If they choose to censor information too much, they risk alienating their core audience.
With more people looking to social media to find their news updates, these companies have a responsibility to uphold American ideals of liberty and individualism. Targeting conservative voices will only draw more attention to the problem.