1. Exquisite Tweets from @zeynep

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    Facebook curators were instructed not to let pieces critical of Facebook trend on Facebook? gizmodo.com/former-faceboo…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Claim: Facebook injected Syria and BLM content. News feed algorithm suppresses non-cheery news, curators inject it?

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    zeynep tufekci

    Look, Facebook *caring* about the content it promotes is a good thing. I think it should care, and care a lot more.

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    zeynep tufekci

    My point is NOT it's bad for Facebook to care about content but that 1-Facebook (and Google) concentrate power; 2-Are not open about this.+

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    zeynep tufekci

    3-That many will like their current choices is no guarantee of anything; 4-That they censor news about Facebook is indicative about issues;+

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    zeynep tufekci

    5-Facebook & Google that have enormous power to shape the public sphere. They should grapple with this but also be open & more accountable.

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    zeynep tufekci

    On the right, "Former Facebook Workers" start trending on Twitter. Will it trend on Facebook at all? Anyone?

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    zeynep tufekci

    This, and with machine learning entering this space very fast, we don't even directly understand much of it anymore. twitter.com/drewconway/sta…

    Drew Conway @
    2/Human curated news is actively biased by humans, while algo curated news in a biased both actively and passively by the same humans

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    The point isn't the past was some unbiased paradise and the future is horrible, but we've entered a new regime with new concentrated powers.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook feed algorithm sold as "what you want" but it structures the experience. FB trending is sold as algorithm but is FB's preferences.🙄

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Meanwhile, Google still defines "algorithm" as computer programs that give you "exactly what you want."

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    zeynep tufekci

    I'm teaching an algorithms, big data and ethics class this Fall. I am so not writing the syllabus till August. Stuff comes out every week.😏

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    zeynep tufekci

    BTW I *do* wish there were a better term than algorithm to mean "complex and opaque computation of consequence". Language does what it does.

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    zeynep tufekci

    FB: "Trust us." Ok. Define "hoax", "sufficient source", "coherent", "effective" & "neutral". facebook.com/tstocky/posts/…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    For such decisions "we show you what's most interesting to you", there's no right answer, hence no escaping values—editorial or computation.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Algorithms for, say, flying a plane, are different than algos to make a subjective decision. It's "no one right answer" all the way down.

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    zeynep tufekci

    You see it in the Facebook VP's answer: they want to retreat to "we're neutral and effective." Doesn't work too well in human affairs.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I don't mean "neutral" and "effective" don't work for Facebook. It doesn't work for human affairs. Welcome to your business model, Facebook.

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    zeynep tufekci

    I am not saying why isn't Facebook neutral, surfacing non-hoax news only from sufficient sources. I'm saying that will always be contested.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Here's a great @TarletonG post on taking Facebook's role in the news and public sphere seriously. socialmediacollective.org/2016/05/09/fac…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Hmm. People can focus on "trending"—though it means little on Facebook—but not on the powerful newsfeed algorithm. twitter.com/CNBCnow/status…

    CNBC Now @
    JUST IN: Senate Commerce Commtitte chair sends letter to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg seeking answers on alleged manipulation of trending news

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    zeynep tufekci

    Easier to worry about "Facebook editors selected this"—it has a journalism analogy— but harder to think about complex computational filters.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Look, every journalist and editor and NGO and activist out there is thinking HOW DO I MATCH MY STUFF TO FACEBOOK'S ALGORITHM? Trending? Meh.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Another editorial decision by a giant platform. It's a good decision but an editorial one. Shows Google's power. twitter.com/JedBracy/statu…

    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Seems Facebook stopped making trending topics purely algorithmic after criticisms about lack of Ferguson coverage. theguardian.com/technology/201…

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    zeynep tufekci

    My piece on Facebook's algorithm vs. Ferguson protest coverage. medium.com/message/fergus… The peer reviewed version: ctlj.colorado.edu/wp-content/upl…

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    zeynep tufekci

    I don't think Facebook bringing editorial or quality control into the mix is a bad thing. I DO think it's a hard problem, esp. given scale.

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    zeynep tufekci

    I do think the FB algorithm has a huge shaping power with a lot of effects—some intended, some not, some unforeseen, some from $$$ motives.

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    zeynep tufekci

    My criticism is this: Facebook is now among the world's most important gatekeepers, and it has to own that role. It's not an afterthought.

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    zeynep tufekci

    That Facebook mediates interactions within our social networks & flow of news is why it's such a huge, profitable company. That's its core.

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    zeynep tufekci

    What makes Facebook successful is that gatekeeping role. I'm sure many Facebook engineers are super brilliant but that's not the core value.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook tries so hard to recruit engineers and to make some blue box just right. But it's core business is in humanities & social sciences.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook cannot escape humanities since it can't escape adopting values, nor social sciences since it judges rank in our social networks.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Look, these are hard questions. The issues Facebook needs to grapple with are what humanity has grappled with for .. millennia. Seriously.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Worst response is to pretend these issues do not exist. They do. Attention is scarce. Values have consequences and are contested. So on.

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    zeynep tufekci

    And Facebook is in the middle of it all; maybe affecting more people than any predecessor, and all this in just over a decade.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I'd like to see more of this discussion, and more realization that the core questions in technology are about values, not pixels. /endfornow

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Editorial values matter—at the NYT or at Facebook—but we're pondering bridle colors for our horseless carriage. The engine is the algorithm.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Look, Facebook seems to have injected a bit of editorial standards to a trivial corner IN ORDER TO COUNTER BALANCE THE ALGORITHM a tiny bit.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Issue isn't the tiny step they took—sounds fine to me except it's maybe too little—but this enormous, maybe unprecedented, power they have.+

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    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook's power is successfully leveraging network effects to scale up to 20% of humanity with an ALGORITHM ranking social ties & news.

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    zeynep tufekci

    That Facebook tried to have some standards to make sure "trending topics" corresponded to news by hiring a dozen people? Not the big story.

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    zeynep tufekci

    How values influence & operate in direct editorial decision-making & computational processes operate don't truly correspond to each other.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Perfectly plausible for Facebook executives, for example, to be liberal leaning, but Facebook, the platform to empower illiberal currents.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Algorithms, especially complex ones at Facebook scale, aren't like making editorial decisions in a newsroom. We NEED NEW TOOLS AND CONCEPTS.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Oh, more than half of young people in US and many people around the world in countries that censor mass media. twitter.com/gripping_hand/…

    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    In the 21st century, this is saying don't have a phone if you don't like THE phone company controlling who you call. twitter.com/dbennett_ks/st…

    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I know this is meant sarcastically but both of these statements are correct and do not contradict each other at all. twitter.com/pmarca/status/…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Watching the Facebook/bias coverage made it clear that so many misunderstandings remain. Public debate is mostly fighting the last war.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Algorithms are not neutral. But their biases & slants do not operate like those of human editors. The conflation is muddying the debate.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Besides, machine learning is coming. Machine intelligence used in subjective decision-making is a new beast. Old analogies don't work well.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I hope to have my piece out (soon hopefully), and hopefully written in an accessible way. Sometimes tempted to write 5K words instead...

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    zeynep tufekci

    Trump page+"Muslims will ban bacon"=click-through money. More apt than "trending" uproar. fusion.net/story/302013/t…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Big problem: "Inside Facebook, the very idea of bias creeping into the system is taboo." buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Last thing that needs to be taboo inside Facebook: the question of bias BUT IN THE NEWSFEED. buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz…

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    zeynep tufekci

    I also still fail to see why a bit of vetting in the trending topics box is wrong on principle. What's wrong with verifying news is news?

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    To show Facebook is "neutral", Zuckerberg will meet with Glenn Beck. Will they discuss Beck's anti-vax theories that do so well on Facebook?

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook falls into "on-the-one-hand, one-the-other-hand" trap—so destructive for old media—and makes its algorithmic biases "taboo".🙄 #sigh

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Well.

    If I'm reading this right, Facebook is confirming the #icebucketchallenge drowned out #Ferguson on Aug 2014.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Black line fits magnitude & flow of ALS ice bucket challenge, green line #Ferguson. How this interacts with the algorithm is the question.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Algorithms optimized for virality on ad-financed platforms as rulers of the public sphere is where we are headed. twitter.com/dfreelon/statu…

    Deen Freelon @
    Again underscoring the importance of Twitter for anti-brutality activism. See our report: cmsimpact.org/blmreport twitter.com/zeynep/status/…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Another former Facebook trending curator. Sounds like Facebook should hire more & do more. theguardian.com/technology/201…

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    zeynep tufekci

    The most dangerous idea. Facebook's algorithm *is* playing politics but—not in old ways. politico.com/story/2016/05/…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook's algorithm is political but not the way conservatives claim or Facebook defends it. My latest for the NYT. nytimes.com/2016/05/19/opi…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Algorithms are biased because that's in their nature. Problem isn't secret biases of coders. nytimes.com/2016/05/19/opi…

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    zeynep tufekci

    Only change I see to trending is not the algorithm but that Facebook fired vetting team and replaced with engineers.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook should hire *more* people to vet topics & integrate them into core business. Enough with denial phase about being in news business.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I see the reporting but I see no story that actually confirms that Facebook moved from less algorithm to more on how topics are selected.

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Instead, seems Facebook fired a team focused on journalistic vetting and replaced them with engineers, expected to do the same job?

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    zeynep tufekci

    Yep. I've long been arguing that Facebook needs MORE people with social sciences, journalism & humanities expertise. twitter.com/jason_kint/sta…

    Jason Kint @
    No worries. Maybe trending folks taught mark's engineers about journalism on way out door. qz.com/768122/faceboo…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Facebook's business is social interactions, news & information flows. These are core social science topics. Presto is cool, but not enough.

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    zeynep tufekci

    Right the team that was fired was doing more than vetting. Now, nobody is doing that part. twitter.com/nathanjurgenso…

    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    I don't know what more to say except amplifying false and malicious information is not a minor harm. Look at 2016. washingtonpost.com/news/the-inter…

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    zeynep

    zeynep tufekci

    Here's a long thread from earlier this year with thoughts on better vetting on FB trending and role of algorithms. twitter.com/zeynep/status/…

    zeynep tufekci @
    Algorithms are biased because that's in their nature. Problem isn't secret biases of coders. nytimes.com/2016/05/19/opi…

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    zeynep tufekci