By Amy Peikoff and Benjamin Chayes
(title in header here was as originally submitted to Fox Business)
Facebook was offline long enough on Monday for people to speculate, not only about what had incapacitated the social media behemoth, but also about life post-Facebook. For some that meant shopping for a competitor: Our company, Parler was one of them and experienced a surge of traffic.
But we suspect others used the downtime to ponder the outage – also affecting Instagram and WhatsApp – coinciding with whistleblower Frances Haugen’s revelations appearing on front pages worldwide. Those revelations were the subject of yet another congressional hearing Tuesday, with Haugen repeatedly urging privacy-preserving congressional oversight for the platform’s “engagement-based ranking” algorithms, and explaining that, ironically, such oversight – which she assumes would yield more purely chronological feeds – would also be in Facebook’s long-term self-interest.
Just as unconfirmed rumors have suggested for years, it appears that Facebook’s business model actually does depend upon amplifying conflict and divisiveness. According to Haugen, the company’s algorithms operate by stirring strong feelings – usually negative – about the content in users’ feeds.
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