So, what is an Algorithm?
Used broadly, an “algorithm” refers to a sequence of steps or rules designed to produce a specific outcome from a set of inputs. A set of calculations that SNS platforms use to decide what content we see. Which can have a lot of sway and influence upon us? Gone are the days of a chronological feed, today we get what we’re given.
Content providers and services get a lot of traffic from SNS. For example "Fake News" Fake news refers to the intentionally untrue content, often about politics, that aimed to inflame people’s sensibilities (or pander to them) to get the piece widely shared.
In January 2018 Facebook algorithm changed. Why?
Facebook decided to take action to curb manipulation and abuse of their platforms, trying to regain some trust, and reaffirm Facebook as a platform for community and ‘meaningful social interaction‘. Unfortunately for all the businesses, publishers and charities (such as NHS, Mind, Samaritans, etc) who posted their content on Facebook, they got caught up in this too. Facebook also served their content a lot less, favouring native posts from users, particularly if people engaged with them. A more cynical person might say this was a way of pushing Facebook advertisers.
Pure and simple, Facebook's objective was: “How do they consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to interact and upload more content.
“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that advertising people like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” Sean Parker (Facebook co-founder)