The calculations behind the ‘indignation’ and ‘compassion’ symbols on Facebook

Tram Ho

Five years ago, Facebook gave users new ways to interact with posts, beyond the traditional “like” button. These are “favorite”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, “angry” and “pity”.

But according to The Washington Post, things are not so simple. Facebook has programmed an algorithm to decide what appears in a user’s News Feed to use emojis as cues to promote provocative content. Internal documents show that, since 2017, the Facebook algorithm has scored emoji 5 times higher than the “like” button. The theory is easy to understand: posts that receive a lot of emoji tend to have higher engagement, while user retention is vital to Facebook’s business.

Những toan tính phía sau biểu tượng phẫn nộ, thương thương trên Facebook - Ảnh 1.

However, Facebook researchers quickly realized the fatal flaw of emoji. That’s prioritizing controversial posts – including ones that make users angry – that will open the door to more spam/abuse/viewing content. The company’s data scientists confirm it in their 2019 report: posts that receive a lot of “outrage” emoji tend to contain fake, malicious, and low-quality news.

It means that for 3 years, Facebook has systematically amplified the worst of its platform, displaying it in users’ News Feeds and spreading it to a wider audience. Algorithmic power undermining the efforts of content governance and integrity is fighting against harmful, hateful information day by day.

The debate over the “outraged” emoji inside Facebook would never have come to light without the whistleblower, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. She has provided many documents for major US news agencies, including The Washington Post.

During her testimony before the British Parliament on October 25, Ms. Haugen asserted: “Anger and hatred is the easiest way to grow on Facebook.”

Algorithms like Facebook’s depend on sophisticated and sophisticated machine learning techniques. But its output is determined by humans. That is the problem.

The weight of the “angry” emoji is just one of many levers Facebook engineers use to manipulate the flow of information on the social network. Facebook takes into account many factors for how each person’s News Feed appears, each time they F5. It includes placing which articles at the top to catch the eye or placing them at the bottom so they are never seen. In other words, human interaction in nearly every country is in the hands, or rather, Facebook’s scoring system.

Facebook says its software receives more than 10,000 “signals” to predict how users will interact. Most of us don’t notice these cues, such as how many long comments under a post, live or pre-recorded videos, full-text comments or extra images. It even takes into account the speed at which each article loads and the Internet connection. Based on leverage, the impact of a small tweak can also make waves across the network, shaping the News Feed as trustworthy or suspicious, politically oriented or not, see you Friends really don’t…

The culture of experimentation is ingrained in Facebook’s blood, where engineers constantly leverage and measure results. For example, Facebook once let random friends appear on a user’s News Feed regularly and observed if the two continued to communicate after the experiment ended. According to one researcher, Facebook can make relationships closer and vice versa.

Comments under posts are scored higher than emoji and 30 times higher than the “like” button. Facebook found that interactions from friends on Facebook will drive users to post more. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook cares about comments, comment responses, and shares. It falls within the so-called “meaningful social interaction” measure, which in turn encourages posts that are politically divisive. The goal of the measure is “to increase the user experience by prioritizing posts that attract interaction, especially dialogue, between family and friends”.

In 2018, Facebook “depreciated” the “indignation” emoji when the value was only 4 times higher than the “like” button and kept the value of the remaining buttons. According to a 2020 document, the “angry” emoji is the least popular of all emojis with 429 million clicks per week, compared with 63 billion “likes” and 11 billion “likes”. The ‘wrath’ button is used more often for posts with issues such as low quality news, fake news, malicious, anti-vaccination.

After several suggestions and arguments from employees, Facebook decided to reduce the value of all emojis, only 1.5 times higher than the “like” button in 2020. September of the same year, the last social network stop using the “angry” emoji as a predictor of what users want to see and reduce the value to zero, while increasing the value of the “favorite” and “sad” emoji. In addition, some other signals are also modulated, such as 1-character comments (such as “.”, “yes”) are not counted.

However, according to The Washington Post, Facebook only adjusts the metrics after they have caused harm. Facebook wants to encourage livestream users to set the livestream value 600 times higher than photos or text. That leads to a wave of extremely low quality video. Livestream also plays a big role in political events, such as the riots on Capitol Hill on January 6. Soon after, Facebook had to reduce the value of livestream on the platform.

Facebook data scientists found that, when the “outraged” emoji value was set to zero, users began to see less misinformation, less offensive content, and less violent content. Meanwhile, user activity levels on Facebook were not affected.

According to The Washington Post

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Source : Genk