Comment on Ownership: Diminishing Diversity

Alejandro, Nashira, Tiffane, adursunyan, anthonyscianna, jehandwilson, portauprinceblog, chiangzhu, guangyangblog, Shay: This is a “word cloud filter bubble” of your commentary of micro-level ownership and diversity.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 4.13.16 PM

Think about it. As Phil Napoli (2001) famously wrote about the mass media media governance (and as we have also noted) DIVERSITY was the key term. That era focused on DIVERSITY OF mass media OWNERSHIP in the macro level of media markets because it was thought that monopolies create “more of the same”, less diverse media CONTENTS. The concept of the “tyranny of ratings” was discussed as well: Content provides would go with the kind of content they thought would produce largest audiences.

Oh well.

In our era of infinite content the OWNERSHIP still influences CONTENT. Now this dynamics has just moved from owning content production to the owners of distribution platforms. We all do the work for them by creating and sharing. Algorithms are the new “weapons” of tyranny. They determine what we see and experience of the cornucopia of online contents – more of the same here, too. The challenge of ownership has not gone anywhere.

Reflections to some of your specific ideas:

I have few friends that deviate from liberal political views, but they are completely neglected from my news feed. It’s understandable that Facebook wants your newsfeed to be filled with content that is the most relevant for you, but in doing so, it creates the illusion that my views are hegemonic.

Exactly. The principle of more of the same applies here. And more “more of the same” you get, and you don’t consciously mix things up, the more heterogenous your feed gets…

The weird thing about is, that I do have a really close friend who is conservative and voted for Trump and obviously being the opinionated person that I am, I always interact with her Facebook more then anyone else’s because of our varying opinions. Although I found it weird because the tool did not pick her up at all, meanwhile it picked up someone as the largest influencer whom I have never interacted with before, so I am not really sure how that works.

This is interesting. So you openly debate politics? Does your friend like pages on FB? Remember how the visualization is created: they are based on the political pages your friends like?We compare your friends liked pages to a database of Facebook pages that have been rated for their liberal/conservative bias and then compute a score based on any matches. Hovering over a person’s data point will show you the reasoning behind the app’s prediction.

In other words, this tool has major limitations as well.

Remember: Media governance is about the ability to control.


Finally, if this theme is of your interest, I (and PolitEcho) recommend

Who Controls Your Facebook Feed? A small team of engineers in Menlo Park. A panel of anonymous power users around the world. And, increasingly, you.

BTW: chiangzhu – Thank you for the great video!


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