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What happens if you like everything on Facebook?
Clicking like on Facebook is pretty harmless, right? Send a little internet kudos in the direction of one friend, boost the self-esteem of another by liking their selfie? That’s all well and good, but what would happen if you liked EVERYTHING? It’s a very different picture, as Wired’s Mat Honan recently found out.
For two days this month Honan liked everything that he saw on Facebook – things that he actually liked, things he was indifferent to and things that he actively hated. He liked statuses, brands, pictures and publications – he even liked a photo of friend’s toddler with her face covered in bruises. Awkward.
Facebook isn’t simply a random feed of random statuses, it’s a complex algorithm that responds to your every action. Very soon, then, Honan’s activity log began to look like this;
So, what happens when you like everything?
What’s perhaps most alarming is that it only took two days for Honan’s Facebook feed to be completely transformed. A few things he discovered were;
- Publishers and brands takeover – “As I went to bed that first night and scrolled through my News Feed, the updates I saw were (in order): Huffington Post, Upworthy, Huffington Post, Upworthy, a Levi’s ad, Space.com, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Verge, Huffington Post, Space.com, Upworthy, Space.com.“
- Political echo chambers – After liking just one pro-Israel post, Honan was inundated with other right-wing political content. Rather than any sort of Facebook agenda, this shows how an algorithm based on ‘related’ content can push us further into bubbles of thought and opinion.
- Your friends will hate you – Liking everything on Facebook will not just alter your own feed, but your friends’ too. Facebook began pumping out the things Honan liked until his friends’ feeds were 70 per cent filled with his erratic activity. After just two days, Facebook began to notice his behaviour and got in contact – at which point he decided it was probably time to end the experiment and begin apologising to his friends.
Read about the experiment in more detail over at Wired.