“D̶o̶n̶'̶t be evil” or what Facebook hides from us

    In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the algorithm, which were supposed to reduce the number of news in personal feeds. Covering this event, he wrote about the importance of human well-being and family content. But what results do the data tell us about a year later?

    NiemanLab recently posted material that showed an abundance of resonant Facebook articles on topics such as abortion, religion, and guns. Moreover, outrage is the most popular reaction of users. Here is an example of the two most common publications for 2019.

    Admittedly, the problem is not only in Facebook algorithms. There are studiesclaiming that anger is the most viral emotion on social networks. Neither compassion, nor disgust, nor even joy. It is anger.

    You probably noticed that in the comments on something more often criticism is seen, not praise. This does not always mean that most people did not like the commented content. It’s just that the negative looks brighter for the human brain, which is why it’s more common.

    Having learned about these studies, I told about them in my Groks channel . I’ll quote a fragment from that record dated 03/18/2018: “Social networks are becoming some kind of catalyst for hatred. That's why Zuckerberg talks about well-being, that's why eminent people of the valley protect their children from their products. ”

    But I was mistaken in Mark’s intentions or in Facebook’s possibilities.

    The graph above shows the interactions of Facebook users with publications containing a link to news sites. Zuckerberg promised a reduction in the share of news publications, but the number of levies with them in 2019 is more than 50% in 2018. And even more than in 2017, although at that time the inauguration of the new president was taking place.

    From the point of view of statistics - one does not contradict the other. The amount of news can actually decrease, because the graph shows the activity of users, and not the frequency of publications. But from the point of view of analytics - do you really think that engagement could increase so much with a decrease in impressions in the feed?

    The above is a list of news sites with the most engagement on Facebook. Fox News has nearly 150 million interactions in less than three months. Now look at the ranking of Facebook pages among publications by the number of indignant reactions.

    The difference between interactions with the page and existing links is obvious - the page is managed by social network managers, and the number of links is due to the citation of the site. However, I was very interested in the absolute leader in two categories - Fox News. I wanted to watch his progress in dynamics.

    January 2016 data

    January 2017 data

    January 2018 data

    January 2019 data

    Before continuing my narration, I want to say a few words about the following:

    • The main growth of Facebook MAU from 1.5 billion users in 2015 to 2 billion in 2017  was  due to Africa and Asia.
    • The US Facebook audience has been declining in recent years. Also falls pastime users in the social network.
    • Fox News, CNN, NBC and all other sites are English-language. And Fox News, for example, has been blocked  for many countries for a long time  , the share of its traffic from the USA exceeds 90%, according to SimilarWeb.

    Since 2016, the number of interactions with Rupert Murdoch's brainchild has grown 12 times, CNN - 14 times, BBC - nine times, NYT - eight times, Huffington Post - eight times, NBC - seven times, and the former BuzzFeed champion has dissolved in nothingness. What is the reason for such a strong concentration of attention around this narrow list of news publications?

    It can be assumed that their impressive growth in 2017 is associated with the results of the US presidential election. Then how to explain the results of the beginning of 2019? May increased user activity?

    But it’s important to understand that there are millions more sites behind each list for each year. And the total amount of user attention is limited and distributed on the global list .
    If it departed in one place, then it will definitely arrive in another. And vice versa.
    On average, the top grew ten times, but it is obvious that the total number of interactions could not grow as much. Moreover, we know that the number of US users and their time on Facebook is reduced .

    Fewer people in less minutes began to produce many more likes, reposts and comments? Absurd!

    Definitely an offset. And by offset, I mean not only the distribution of attention to the recordings from the tape. At the very beginning of the article, the thesis was made that negativity dominates on Facebook. Take a closer look, the negative runs a red thread through all the data that I refer to. What if there is a shift in the global emotional component towards the negative?

    I understand that I look like one of those malacholny who, with a foil on his head and conspiracy theological nonsense inside her, is trying to talk about big things. But let's use the opposite method. If the main person on Facebook speaks of the possibility to improve the well-being of users on his social network, then he can worsen it.

    The media business is primarily a business that lies in the plane of attention economy. What attracts attention? Emotions And what is the brightest emotion? Anger. And the more negative, the more fiat can be obtained from attention and its derivatives.

    Remember “My Family,” “Windows,” or “House 2.” After all, these are very successful commercial projects. What about modern political talk shows? Not for the sake of the widespread belief about the hierarchy of their managers, they have incredibly high ratings. This is all business, just like Facebook. And we are satisfied consumers who like to surround themselves with negativity and cultivate it, without thinking about psychological health.

    Many thanks to all for your attention. If you are interested in such considerations that do not fit into the format of a full-fledged article, then subscribe to my Groks channel .

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