The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.

algorithm strip

Oh, those algorithms (Part I)

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algorithm strip

Thanks to cartoonist Stephan Pastis for his wordplay — even on the days his comic strips make me groan.

Facebook’s constant tinkering with its algorithms has taken us back in time, not to Internet 1.0 but to intrusion marketing.

TV ads exemplify intrusion marketing since they intrude on your television show. The ads are the time you use to get something to eat, use the bathroom, retrieve something from another room, or channel surf. A marketer could segment its marketing during the Saturday morning cartoons, but not so much during prime time. The ads you did see would be from an advertiser intruding on your time with their message, whether you wanted it or not or whether or not you were in their target market, a potential customer..

In contrast, the internet brought us permission marketing, where you could give a company or organization permission to send you something that it wanted you to see. Ideally it was a one time thing, but often you got added to an email list and got regular emails, often too frequently.

Liking a page in Facebook gave the company or organization permission to provide information in your news feed.

In an article on Insidefacebook.com on August 15, 2014, Mary Long explained some of the changes:

So in the past few years, Facebook has begun to change and modify the way users see news and information in their feeds and organic reach suffered, naturally. Facebook unveiled an algorithm designed to help populate users’ News Feeds with topics and information relevant to their likes and interests.

The algorithm examined how a user interacted with the items on their newsfeed and extrapolated what similar items could be brought in to meet those interests. And while this all made sense for end users – it ticked off brands …

(My italics)

So now we have not real people hoping to reach the people who would be interested in a company or organization, but algorithms intruding without permission. The problem is it hasn’t “all made sense to end users” and they may not get “topics and information relevant to their likes and interests.”

The algorithms “examine” a user’s last 500 interactions. There are three problem with this “judgment” that algorithms won’t be able to “understand” and act on:

  • It may not be the subject matter that interests a user but a specific company at which a friend or relative works, in which they own or are contemplating buying stock, contributing or volunteering or which they wish to study or learn about. Users may be very contentedly lurking and not appreciate any changes.
  • It may be a question of time – how much interaction any user has with any item in her news feed depends on how much free time she has available and where her priorities lie at any given time.
  • It may be the level of interest; a user may be passionate about some interests and lukewarm on others, but may want to maintain the lukewarm interest for a time when that interest will be a higher priority.

Facebook may be putting itself out of business by using its algorithms to intrude on users’ news feeds rather than allowing each user to give permission as he or she sees fit.


Author: 5oci4lm3di4101

We're a class learning about the ins and outs of social media. We learn by doing.

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