Clean Up Your Act

Hey Facebook, it’s 2018 and it’s about time that you did something to clean up your act. I get that freedom of speech and press is one of the core principles that this country is founded on, but when it starts to affect other people, something needs to be done about it. So I am really happy that they’re testing a “downvote” button on some mobile users in the US.

As of right now, Facebook has become a platform where it is incredibly easy to post whatever your heart desires. My timeline is littered with pages (most of which were legitimate at one point or another) posting whatever clickbait they deem captivating enough for the time being. Nothing is actually worth the clicks though. Everything is questionable at best, and almost nothing is worth my time. And there is nothing I can do about it. Wow! I can react with a mad face! That’ll show them! Yeah, right. Any press is good press for these people. fake news is good news if people are willing to click on the links.

Image result for cnn fake news

Because of this, I am spending less and less time on Facebook, as it is literally just a time pit that I get sucked into for minutes to hours every day. I could be doing anything else: homework, hanging out with friends, watching the Olympics, etc. But no. I digress.

What is important to me is that finally Facebook is doing something to help clean the garbage out of its newsfeed. It is finally working on a downvote button, which is essentially the report button, but made more convenient and user-friendly. Instead of being hidden in the drop down menu, it will (potentially) be right there in the post next to the like and react buttons. The button will hide the post, and give a convenient way to report the post as spam, inappropriate content, fake news, or whatever other way you want to categorize it.

What is so important about this button, however, is that Facebook is actively making it known that this is not a “dislike button.” In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg stated in a Q&A, “We didn’t want to just build a Dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.” With the way that society has become, people reacting in the real world to what people say about them online, it is key that there isn’t going to be a voting system on posts. With an emphasis on the mental health aspect of social media – people are more and more reliant on affirmation from people, even strangers, online for self-esteem – Facebook is taking the correct path with this aspect.

But the next step is Facebook Live. Facebook Live has come under fire since it has been launched for allowing Facebook users to post whatever they want, with absolutely no way to censor what they post. From shootings to domestic violence to overdoses and more, thousands and thousands of people have been exposed to some of the worst that humanity has to offer. Yes, fine, eventually these posts will garner enough negative attention that they are taken down by Facebook, but until then anyone is able to see. Especially on a platform where the age restriction is as easy to get around as making up a fake birthday and clicking the box that says, “I am 13,” this is a huge problem. Little kids are seeing what no kid should see. An argument is against censoring Facebook Live is that it’s free speech, and people have consented to seeing everything by clicking that box. Still. It gets to a point where changes need to be made. Nothing has happened with this as of now, but at least other more popular apps have learned from Facebook’s mistakes.
kid scene GIF

The founders of Snapchat have come out and said that they have no intentions of giving live streaming capabilities to users. Whereas Facebook Live (and Instagram live videos, for that matter) gives ordinary users the ability to reach countless eyes, Snapchat’s live feature will only be available to professionals. Nothing good has come out of letting people reach beyond their direct web of people, and it gets really annoying when I am getting alerts every few minutes that some person or another has started a live video. Who cares? By only giving live streaming capabilities to pros, like NBC during the olympics for coverage of important moments, it allows Snapchat to censor what is being spread to the masses. Only quality content will be shown. So thank you Snapchat. Even though I (and literally everyone else on the planet) hate the new update that you forced on people, you are doing something right when it comes to live streaming. Facebook take note.

6 comments

  1. Think this down voting will be interesting with the currently polarized nature of the United States right now. Not sure how well it will work at first to truly clean up and fix the timeline/newsfeed. Each person is offended or likes separate content, which is why Facebook is so popular. As the article said, this new change is definitely going to bring up questions in regards to censorship.

    100% agree with Facebook Live though. With the number of active users on Facebook, its nearly impossible to monitor all of the content and live events on the site, allowing for insane content to be posted that can be continuously broadcasted to everyone. Its definitely going to be interesting to see how Facebook adjusts monitoring and censorship, which they still haven’t managed to control. Hopefully new tech and more complex systems will be able to find and shut down offensive live content more effectively in the future.

  2. This is a great post and is definitely very relatable after our class discussion on Facebook. I also find the fake news aspect of Facebook incredibly frustrating and annoying, and I think it leads to a contentious question of free speech. If Facebook says they are committed to building a supportive community I think you are right that they must take action to eliminate fake news. While I think the downvote button is interesting and seems like a good idea, I wonder how effective it would be seeing it relies so heavily on user beliefs and opinions. I am sure this is where the design aspect of the Ted Talk we watched comes in and that rigorous testing will ensure the most effective button.

    I also think your discussion of the danger of Live features and the different approaches Facebook and Snapchat have taken interesting. I also find the Live feature annoying and continually click through them, and I appreciate that Snapchat has taken the measures to only allow it for certain accounts. This seems to draw a line between quality content and total access content. While Facebook works to include all content, Snapchat focuses on quality content. In the future, I wonder what the trend will be towards and what will prove to be the best option.

  3. As I read this post I couldn’t help to remember the Ted Talk we watched on individuals who flagged facebook photos of themselves. I wonder if the downvote button will take over as a new way for individuals to remove posts/information that they personally either don’t like or don’t agree with. Facebook will have to find a way to work around the misuse of their platform. Like @graceglambrecht said It will be interesting to see what complex systems and algorithms Facebook comes up with to combat abuse of the downvote button. Great post, really got me thinking!

  4. The cluttered look of Facebook is something that has bothered me for a while. In my opinion, Facebook has had the worst user interface of all of the social media apps for a while (until Snapchat took the throne a few days ago). I think that vast amount of data/information at Facebook’s disposal has been its greatest strength and pitfall over the past couple of years. While the company has made a hefty profit off of its data, that same data has exploited its users and caused some to turn away from the platform.

    I think that Facebook Live is a great feature, especially for professional sports teams and youth sports organizations, as it allows fans to connect with the players in ways that weren’t imaginable before. While Periscope is not as widely used at this point, it is mainly the same idea as Facebook Live: users creating live content for followers to comment and react to. While I imagine that it exists, I don’t think Periscope has received a huge amount of criticism for vulgar/crude comments that appear during videos. Facebook Live is still in its early stages and I think that the company and users will get used to the nuances of the new technology in due time.

  5. I do think that “Fake News” (or, really, propaganda) is a threat to Facebook’s business model. I’m not so sure about Facebook Live. All new technologies go through phases where it get misused, then the platforms figure out how to work around it. I suspect that they will discover that there are certain patterns associated with illicit broadcasts, and be able to use AI to identify them more quickly.

  6. I can understand where Facebook is coming from regarding the dislike button and not wanting to promote negativity; it’s a part of selling itself as a “positive” social network. But I for one like the democratic power of the like/dislike button from my experience on Reddit with the up/down vote button. The crowd has a surprising way of filtering through BS when it’s allowed to suss out nonsense on its own; I know it would be a HUGE change for facebook but it makes me wonder how extensively they can afford to change the platform now that it is so big. They’ve definitely lost some agility in regards to enacting change given the time that must be spent contemplating platform pivots.

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