Bits: Daily Report: Facebook Has a Bug. Can It Be Fixed?

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To get people to see opposing points of views, Facebook might have to do the unthinkable — disregard the likes and dislikes of its users. Credit Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

It is tempting to say there are two kinds of people these days: those who are willing to spend $425 on designer jeans that have been stained with pretend mud and those who get actual mud on their jeans.

Through the prism of Tuesday’s internet outrage — pricey jeans that were decorated with fake mud and offered by the retailer Nordstrom — let’s try to understand what critics said was the biggest problem at Facebook: The social media service’s highly successful and highly algorithmic news feed has split its members into two camps.

On one side, the so-called elites see only news that fits with their urban, most likely progressive viewpoints. On the other side are those who see only news that fits with their suburban or rural viewpoints. People who buy designer clothes and pretend to do hard work versus people who actually get their hands (or jeans) dirty.

But as Farhad Manjoo points out in a deeply reported magazine piece, fixing those news bubbles isn’t quite so easy. Facebook is driven by data, and in order to get people to see opposing points of views, it might have to do the unthinkable — disregard the likes and dislikes of its users. But then what?

“If Facebook were to take more significant action, like hiring human editors, creating a reputational system or paying journalists, the company would become something it has long resisted: a media company rather than a neutral tech platform,” Farhad writes.

That’s exactly what some critics have said Facebook should do.

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Source: New York Times – Technology

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