How I brainwashed Facebook to brainwash me.

Now and then we have always been hearing about big giants including facebook brainwashing us, by controlling what we see on News Feed.

This is basically similar to North Korea showing propaganda tv shows throughout all the TV network. — Bold statement?

Another side of the story is that it all depends on your activities in the platform. They are analyzing what we click, to whom we speak, groups/community we are involved in and deliver content accordingly through a complex computer algorithm.

Basically, Facebook is blaming us upon what we are seeing, so we brainwashing ourselves. Legit right?

We are under the impression that we have a remote control but Facebook controls what tv shows to show on the channel you selected.

Hold on, this is not anti-facebook propaganda. There is a beautiful term called Artificial Intelligence (AI) and “Persuasion Architecture”.

AI helps us to accelerate our understanding of study and research. One of the major industry boosted by AI is Marketing and the Ad world. Nowadays, a company can get their exact target audience leading to affordable online marketing, especially for small businesses.

AI threat is not what AI will do to us after the singularity, it’s how people in power will use AI to manipulate our consciousness and liberty to make a decision.

Let's assume Zuckerberg is a good guy.

Facebook has countless stories to show you but they won’t simply show you in chronological order. They filter out only few that might interest you and likely to get more engagement. This helps us to see only meaningful stories and
remove an overwhelming number of useless data.

I recently noticed my facebook news feed was polluted with the useless posts that are creating a negative impact on my learning behaviour. I am not seeing stories that I needed to see.

In simple words, Facebook's news feed algorithm was not working for me.

You might say ‘stop using facebook’. But Facebook or any social media can be utilized in many ways. It depends on the particular individual and what they want from Facebook. I personally take facebook as a powerful tool where you can express yourself, connect with people with similar interests and get inspired by people and community that are working on the field of your interest.

So, I decided to help Facebook.

The first question was ‘how does the Facebooks News Feed Algorithm work?’

Screenshot from Facebook FAQ page.

After some googling, I came up with the following action plan:

  1. Unfollow pages and community that doesn’t add value to me.
  2. Follow inspiring people and pages.
  3. Provide feedback to Facebook: Report or hide ads that are irrelevant to me.

I started using facebook from 2008., I was shocked to see the number of pages and groups I have liked and have been following. Few of them didn't even make sense, why did I even ‘like’ it in the first place? Unliking or unfollowing the pages that you don't need was easier said than done.

As it was getting very hard for me to decide, I broadly categorize all the pages into 2 categories.

  1. Pages I can’t leave without it.
  2. Pages I can leave without it.

I convinced myself that it's not the end of the world. I can always go back and follow them again :)

Facebook provides a tool which helps you to filter your news feed:

I bet everyone has few people in their connection who share each and every post in this whole universe, like just about everything.

2. Follow inspiring people:

Whenever I get a chance to connect with young talents/students, I always stress the importance of networking with them. This is probably the best way to find out what people with a common interest are doing and deciding the right direction. Whichever field you belong to, you will always find some people who are contributing so much to the community and inspiring people along the way.

I already had a handful number of such people on my facebook. I decided to add a few more to the list.

3. Provide feedback to Facebook: Report or hide ads that are irrelevant.

Facebook always advises its users to provide feedback that will help them to improve their algorithm but we rarely take these features seriously. So, how can we provide proper feedback?

Here is the list of ways we can give feedback to Facebook. I personally liked the snooze feature, this really helps you to completely turn off the posts from that page or person you don't want to see.

And now the twist.

You might have noticed, you search something in google or other platform and suddenly you see ads of similar products on Facebook.

Sponsored ads don’t depend only on the activities that you perform on Facebook. This giant of a company definitely shares your preferences across the platform, the topic which I will cover in my next article.

So, here is the conclusion.

I wanted to be productive on Facebook and see stories that inspire me or at least don't distract me. The first thing we did was help Facebook identify what doesn’t fall under my interest. Secondly, I started following inspiring people. This is basically signalling Facebook to show the content on my newsfeed. Finally, I provided post feedback to improve their algorithm. Hopefully, my days will now start in a more positive way.

Before saying goodbye, here is the honourable mention:

The literal meaning of this in Nepali is — नकिने सम्म छोडदिन |