Cliff Kuang, FastCoDesign:
I systematically unfollowed every single person and organization in my network except the actual news outlets. That promptly turned my sprawling social network of friends, frenemies, and strangers into a mere news reader plugged into just a half-dozen publications. Problem solved! No more updates about people’s lives.
There’s a follow-on effect that I didn’t realize either: If you unfollow people on Facebook, you drop out of their Facebook feed as well. So now, whenever I have something I really want to share–a new job, or the final draft of the book I’ve been writing for years–I’m met with crickets. I’m stranded on the digital equivalent of a deserted island.
There’s no obvious way to get off this island. I could manually re-follow everyone I unfollowed. But even if I do that, I have no idea if Facebook automatically makes them follow me. For all intents and purposes, my Facebook is ruined.
My understanding is that Facebook is a two way street. Not a follow and follow-back model but a binary friend or not-a-friend model. In other words, if someone accepts your friend request, they are your friend and you are “following” each other.
That aside, there’s this:
This is a problem that Facebook hasn’t acknowledged directly, and it’s even worse on Twitter, where following people eventually makes your feed into an unruly mess. This dilemma will only grow as other services increasingly lean on passive choices to shape the user experience. I call it dead-end UX.
I think there’s a fair point here. Services like Facebook and Twitter are designed to grow in complexity as your graph of relationships grows. The more connections you have, the more your feed grows, and that growth is exponential. This means, the more people you follow, the easier it is to miss any particular post.
Let’s roll the clock back to the very first “Like” you record on the platform. Using that little bit of data, along with whatever else is available, Facebook tries to extrapolate what else you might like. Its entire view of you is filtered through that single data point. But if you go on to Like dozens and then hundreds of other things that it throws in front of you, it starts generating a stronger and stronger hypothesis of what you’ll react to.
Cliff makes some solid and interesting points here. Worth reading the rest. But one thing that springs to mind for me. This is both lessons learned for social network builders, and an opportunity for the next generation, a chance to build a better social network, one that is more easily tunable and one that does a better job of filtering fake news.