Competition can fix Big Tech, but only if we don't make "bigness" a legal requirement

I'm all for making Big Tech small again and fixing the internet so that it's not just five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four, not to mention doing something about market dominance, corporate bullying, rampant privacy invasions and so on. Read the rest

Facebook's "celebration" and "memories" algorithms are auto-generating best-of-terror-recruiting pages for extremist groups

Facebook isn't very good at selling you things on behalf of its advertisers, so the company has to gather as much data as possible on you and use it keep you clicking as much as possible in the hopes of eventually scoring a hit with its targeting system, and that means that it often commits unwitting -- but utterly predictable -- acts of algorithmic cruelty. Read the rest

Facebook's year-old "improvements" to the newsfeed have elevated enraging Fox News posts to the service's dominant form

A year ago, smarting over public criticism of its role in promoting division and stoking racism, Facebook announced a major shift in its newsfeed algorithm which would downrank posts from media organizations and uprank the things sent by your friends on the network, in the name of promotion a gentler form of "engagement" that would emphasize discourse over clickbait, which founder Mark Zuckerberg promised would be "time well spent." Read the rest

"Friendly" apps are good at maximizing engagement, but their context-blindness is a cesspit of algorithmic cruelty

Designers use metrics and a/b splitting experiments to maximize engagement with their products, seeking out the phrases that trigger emotional responses in users -- like a smart scale that congratulates you on losing weight -- but these systems are context-blind, so they are unable to distinguish between people who might be traumatized by their messages (say, a woman who's just miscarried late in her pregnancy, being congratulated on her "weight loss"). Read the rest