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Facebook’s Algorithm Change: Maintaining the Flow of Information in Dangerous Times

Dodge the corporate filters with more direct dialogue.

(Image: Bill Hinton / Getty Images)

If you use Facebook regularly, you’ve probably realized that the items on your newsfeed don’t appear at random or in chronological order. Facebook uses an ever-changing algorithm — a mechanism that decides what content will appear for each person, and in what way it will be prioritized — to determine what shows up in your feed. Recently, Facebook has made a significant change to its algorithm. Under this new iteration, users will encounter far less news from publishers in their everyday use of Facebook. Since most of us get at least some of our news from social media, this change will undoubtedly lead to a disruption in the flow of information. In the dangerous times we live in, we believe the flow of information has never been more crucial, but when corporations control over 90 percent of the media, and a corporate algorithm governs the distribution of news and analysis, events like this are bound to unfold. The relationship between journalism and social media has been a troubled one for some time, and instead of fostering a dynamic of direct connection, many media outlets have been cajoled into trusting an algorithm with the management of the truth itself.

The only way forward, given the extremity of this corrosion, is to be intentional about recreating connections between ourselves as publications, writers and readers — and the need to build these connections has never been more urgent. Social platforms will continue to share posts from readers that spark dialogue. That means sharing and sparking discussion about the issues we care about most will be more crucial than ever to the flow of honest information. The corporate filter must be replaced with curation of a publication’s readership. The flow of information will depend on the desire of readers to not simply be informed, but create dialogues around the information they receive.

Ensuring that stories about what harms disenfranchised communities, and what forces are, indeed, killing the Earth itself, are delivered to the public will now, more than ever, be a collective effort. We are ready to rise to that challenge, and embrace that change, because we believe that relationships, rather than mere facts and analysis, are the root of social transformation. At Truthout, we are asking our readers to join us in this culture-building shift, which we hope will take hold throughout the digital news sphere. If you believe in the necessity of independent journalism, we want to deliver the news to your doorstep. Truthout is committed to the free flow of information, and to keeping information free. We will create no paywalls. We will feature no ads. We will not be influenced by corporate sponsors. And in partnership with our readers, we will cut out the corporate middlemen and spread the truth from person to person, and inbox to inbox.

We are currently developing new ways to work in partnership with our readers to tell stories that fuel movements, and that will better enable our readers to connect with the struggles they care about. While the internet has added some sharp edges to the exchange of information, we must not sacrifice the truth. This is the work of change. This is part of the fight. And de-consolidating knowledge will help set us free.

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