Billions of people around the world view relevant content on the Internet with the help of algorithms. This is not unique to Facebook.
However, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen Testimony earlier this month And the documents submitted have re-examined the impact of Facebook and its algorithms on teenagers, democracy and society.
The result has raised questions about how much Facebook – and perhaps platforms like it – could be reconsidered using a bevy of algorithms or means to determine what images, videos and news users see.
Algorithms are not going away. But there are ways for Facebook to make them better, experts in algorithms and artificial intelligence told CNN. However, it will require something Facebook appears reluctant to offer so far (despite executive talk points): greater transparency and control for users.
Rethinking Focus on Engagement
Experts say a major obstacle to making meaningful improvements is social networks’ focus on the importance of engagement, or how long it takes users to scroll, click, and otherwise interact with social media posts and ads.
Haugen revealed internal documents Anyone who mirrors the social network from Facebook knows that its “core product mechanics, such as optimization for virginity, recommendations and engagement, are an important part” of why hate speech and misinformation “flourish” on its platform.
“Engagement is not synonymous with good mental health,” said James Mickens, a professor of computer science at Harvard and co-director of the Institute for the Berkman Klein Center for Rebooting Social Media.
This is difficult to change, although many agree that it may involve considering users’ feelings when using social media, not just the amount of time they spend using it.
In the past, some would have said that this would require pressure from advertisers whose dollars back these platforms. But in his testimony, Haugen seemed to bet on a different answer: pressure from Congress.