[Facebook Whistleblower] Frances Haugen’s suggestion to switch feeds back to chronological order could change everything.
Haugen suggested a few remedies, some of which we’ve heard before, such as reforming Section 230 protections against legal action. But her most radical proposal gets to the heart of the problem: “I’m a big proponent of chronological ranking with a little bit of spam demotion.”
If Haugen’s wish came true, then our newsfeeds would once again be ordered by time, and not by what people find most exciting, gross or enraging. “I cannot emphasize enough what a big change that would be for Facebook and, almost certainly, its bottom line,” Parmy wrote in today’s Terminal Live Blog. It would also be a big change for public health, democracy and, like, [gestures at everything]. Facebook probably won’t let it happen without a fight. But it may be a fight worth having.
This is true of all the social networks. YouTube was great when it showed you what people were watching all over the world every day, then they switched to showing you what they think YOU want to see. Facebook also made the same change, then Instagram, Twitter, and so on. This keeps people on the sites longer, but it also creates the so-called “rabbit-holes” or “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” where you only see what they think you want to see.
This is leading to mass polarization all over the world, which is actually a threat to our very democracy.
The way to fix it, as Haugen states, bring back chronological timelines with a little bit of spam demotion.