In the eight years since, Facebook’s News Feed ”” that LED-lit window through which we glimpse news, memes and snatches of other people’s lives ”” has not exactly gotten less controversial. But the nature of that controversy has fundamentally changed. Where early college users raged against sharing, and seeing, too much information ”” of being subsumed, in effect, by the social media noise ”” our anxieties today frequently involve getting too little of it. Facebook’s latest changes to the News Feed, announced just last week, are essentially tooled to give users more content, more quickly.
Both concerns relate to control. Whether we see too much content or too little, everything we see in Facebook’s News Feed is determined by an algorithm ”” an invented mathematical formula that guesses what you want to see based on who posted it, where it came from, and a string of other mysterious factors known only to the programmers and project managers who work on it.