This Thursday at Techonomy, a technology conference in California, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook is not responsible in any way for the outcome of the presidential election.

The primary purpose of this social network has always been to connect every person on behalf of a global digital community, by bringing people together and giving everyone a voice of their own, said CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg at the Techonomy 2016 conference in Half Moon Bay, California. Image credit: The Straits Times.

Facebook has made a lot of changes since its first appearance on the web to succeed on the plans they have for the company. Lately, News Feed has been receiving criticism for the new features that the company is implementing on it.

With the new algorithms, the web page shows you a whole body of information that you “unconsciously” approved in the past. It also takes into account the interests of the friends who you interact the most. Basically, it shows you the posts that could give you the highest satisfaction when reading, the articles in which you agree the most and the opinions that are aligned with yours.

The problem is that it doesn’t show you all the information that challenges your prejudices and general worldview. It just avoids the content that disqualifies your beliefs and prioritizes the one that doesn’t.

Facebook has spent years improving the algorithm that allows News Feed decide which content is going to be in your range of access. This personalization assures you a body of information that appeals to your deepest desires, instincts, and beliefs.

Journalists like Parmy Olson from Forbes had criticized heavily this new mechanism of news delivering. In fact, earlier this year, the company was accused of being “anti-Trump,” because of the “favoring” that liberal stories were receiving from News Feed.

Executives denied this allegation, while sacked its human team and relied completely on the algorithm for the selection of content. The consequence of this action was immediate: stories which were later proved entirely false appeared on the timelines of a vast number of users.

Zuckerberg has claimed that the intention to blame News Feed on influencing the election, is “crazy.” The accusation is based on the false stories that were popular on Facebook before the election, and that in a way or another, favored Trump’s campaign. Posts of the latter were clicked more than Hillary’s.

According to recent research, every person in the network has at least one acquaintance that has different ideological beliefs. For Zuckerberg, the real question is how to influence the reaction of people when they see a post that they disagree with. The key is to stop people from brushing all this dissonant information under the rug, noted Zuckerberg.

“Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea (…) People are smart, and they understand what’s important to them,” Zuckerberg said.

News Feed needs improvement

In order to succeed in this challenge, the company is involving more human material in the developing of the algorithms that are being used. The executives have said that News Feed has a lot to give, but it also has to evolve with time.

According to News Feed VP of Product Management, Adam Mosseri, there’s a lot to be done. He added that it is important to them to keep improving the ability to detect misinformation. Although, he also insists that there is no direct relation between this Facebook news feature and the outcome of the election. He echoes the Zuckerberg declarations and claims that this is simply a way to explain the results.

Facebook NewsFeed
“As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.79 billion monthly active users,” as reported by Statista. Image credit: Facebook.

Zuckerberg has said that while this feature helps connecting the world and global community, and gives people the power to share, there will be a constant improvement.

“On the community guidelines, I think as norms change and people want to see more news, I think we’ll have to continue to evolve the guidelines to reflect the value that the community holds,” Zuckerberg concluded.

Source: TechCrunch