How Facebook and Twitter control what you see about Ferguson

On Twitter, I see tear-gassed civilians, heavily armed cops, and reporters being arrested. On Facebook, I see people dumping buckets on their heads. The Washington Post offers a good overview of a complex, and important, issue.

Above: #Ferguson, on Twitter
Below: Rest of America, on Facebook

“The study found that, because Facebook friend networks are often composed of ‘weak ties’ where the threshold for friending someone is low, users were often negatively surprised to see their acquaintances express political opinions different from their own. This felt alienating and, overall, made everyone less likely to speak up on political matters (and therefore, create content for Facebook).”For University of North Carolina sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, this sort of “algorithmic filtering” is more than a matter of technical differences. Last Wednesday, when there was rioting in Ferguson and journalists were being arrested, the events in Ferguson unfolded in real time on her Twitter feed. But on Facebook, where she follows a similar composition of friends, posts about Ferguson didn’t appear in her feed until the next morning. “Would Ferguson be buried in algorithmic censorship?” she wrote on Medium.

If so, that’s bad. “How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue,” she wrote. —The Washington Post.