Seven reasons to sign up to a newspaper today

 It is worthwhile to read the 25,455 words of “The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley reengineered journalism” a report by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Authors Emily Bell and Taylor Owen did an extraordinary job, very well written and supported by data, explaining how Facebook destroyed journalism without realizing it. After reading it, your Fi correspondent in the US is left with little faith that content of this quality may become viral, so he prepared this clickbait summary:

  1. The Facebook newsfeed displays the material with more likes and shares by our friends first
  2. With almost two billion users globally, Facebook found out that we tend to like and share content we agree with
  3. The mechanism that decides what to show us is automated through a secret Facebook algorithm
  4. Unpleasant surprise: if many friends share a lie, Facebook shows it as if it were true, without any distinction
  5. Facebook has no economic incentive whatsoever to correct the situation, as it charges advertisers for the numberof likes, not for being true or false
  6. Even though Facebook would like to tell truth from lies to respond to critics, it has found it impossible to do so automatically
  7. If Facebook disappeared, there is a long list of companies like Google and Snapchat that immediately would take its place in spreading lies in order to become the biggest advertising platform by reach in history

The authors wrap up their research wondering if there will be any way to provide human oversight to content that is shared on a large scale. Your correspondent feels that a proven method of oversight are newsrooms. How would you know if your favorite newspaper is at least trying to oversee its content? When it offers digital subscriptions. It means it has already thought about an alternative manner to pay the bills when Facebook takes all the ad money.

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