This week, I read two very different articles about using the like function on Facebook.
The results speak for themselves.
Honan managed to change Facebook into a nightmare site, full of trashy linkbait. All the reasons we put up with Facebook’s horrible privacy track record were lost in a giant trashpile of “… and you won’t believe what happened next!” By contrast, Morgan saw the trash pile diminish and his friends emerge. From his description, it sounds like the Facebook News feed that conned us into signing on to the service re-emerged when the likes were thrown in the trash.
After reading the two articles, the first thing I thought was well yeah, duh, of course.
But these things are only obvious now that my attention has been drawn to it. Facebook’s like function is not, in truth, a tool for Facebook users to indicate that they like something. It is not a thumbs-up to the author of the status. These things are spin.
The like function is Facebook’s primary tool to track what you are looking at, and it feeds the algorithm that places garbage in your Facebook News feed.
And if you overfeed the algorithm, it grows to Godzilla proportions, and decimates the Tokyo that is your News feed. Starve it, and it dies. Or, at least, becomes a weak shadow of its former self.
Strangely enough, while I had been finding Facebook much worse lately, I did not associate it with my recent decision to be more participatory — which, essentially, means that I’ve been liking more things. If anything, I was trying to like my way out of it – trying to like more ‘better’ things, in an effort to turn the algorithm. I should have been starving it, instead.
I really like you. You really like me.
So I’m going to take a page out of Morgan’s book, and stop liking you on Facebook.
Not just you, though. Everything.
I’ll still try to be more participatory, but using comments instead. It might even cause some conversations with friends. Which is exactly what Facebook is meant to encourage. But what it needs you to avoid.
And if you stop liking me? I’ll understand. From here on, I’ll assume that you would have liked what I wrote. You just don’t want to feed the algorithm.