first sighting of Facebook algorithmic influence

Tracking Exposed
Mar 2, 2018 · 3 min read

Analyzing the differences between what our bots are seeing is interesting, but even having the list of posts initially published by the pages they are following is even better. With this additional dataset, we can put in context algorithm decision making; we can know how many posts were available and yet unseen to a user. We can begin understanding how much our 30 sources are different, just observing how much they are publishing:

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Filter used: ‘created_time’ in January or February, Display = 0, considering until the 21 of February

we begun from 90 possible sources, we tried to select in the most equally distributed way, considering the most active page. Simply, from these stats you can see the different social media presence from Movement 5 Stars and Lega Nord (the main party of the Right coalition)

Above you don’t see impressions, but posts, they are obtained with the official Facebook API, and despite the information is not equally distributed, we have to wonder “what appears, how many times, to whom”, because that is:

A visualization of the algorithm decision making

In the graph below, every line is a publication (has a unique postId), every square represent if the post appears or not in the column hour.

NOTE: posts and impressions are different

A post is something published by a profile (a page, a Facebook user, a group) a post has a unique postId; it collects some likes, shares, comment. Can be a link, a status, photo or video. When a post appears in a timeline is an impression. We distinguish between them because one post can appear more than once (or never). in our dataset, an impression always has as impressionTime (when it appears to the users) and an impressionOrder (in which order of the NewsFeed it show up).

We can see in the first line a post published by a source, which appears three time in Andrea’s timeline (at 12, at 1PM and 2PM) 5 time to Oliviero, four time to Santiago, and zero times to Antonietta, Britta and Michele.

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The algorithm decide which post one person see and which the other don’t. Every square is an impression.

Especially for the fascist profile, they, somehow, get re-proposed the same post much more than, compared to the others.

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29 means a post is appear in 29 different timelines, for the same profile.
Basically, every time the bar is not green, facebook has preferred to make appear

Another way of seeing, is the amount of unique post the profile received. The total number can be similar, but more repetition means less unique post, less information diversity, more reinforcing, re-proposing of the same things during the day:

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The side is proportional to the number of Unique posts seen in the day

Lesson learned: Facebook believe so much in their Algorithm when decides you want something, you will end up to see it a lot of times!

If Cattelan permits, I’ve reframed the art piece named L.O.V.E.

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Nope, Facebook doesn’t care on you getting informed

This is a post in the Italian Elections 2018 series: 0- fbtrex Background, 1- Testing Facebook algorithm in an electoral campaign (methodology), 3- judging algorithm discrimination, 4- Facebook stab online media twice, 5- The Iron Bubble (or: how the Facebook algorithm insulates fascists from reality).

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