Facebook’s political focus isn’t going anywhere

Despite changes to your Facebook timeline, don’t expect your politically-charged newsfeed to be replaced with a constant stream of dog photos just yet.

After concluding users are happier when using Facebook to connect with their social circle, people in the coming weeks will begin seeing fewer posts from news publishers, brands and businesses in their newsfeeds. While Mark Zuckerberg might think this is great, it’s drawn some criticism. 

In an opinion piece in The Toronto Star, Callum Borchers argues feeding users more content from friends will weed out the posts that challenge our ideological views. Borchers hypothesizes newsfeeds will consistently feed users a regurgitation of their own views.

This negative reaction to Facebook’s evolution isn’t uncommon. Similar updates to social media sites and apps are seldom met with enthusiasm. Instagram’s dissolution of its chronological timeline caused public outcry. Snapchat’s recent separation of friends’ stories and news content currently has everyone under 15 years old scrambling to keep up their streaks. 

But as these past updates have shown us, social media users will adapt to any changes and continue cultivating their online presence as they always have.

While Borchers may not be wrong in arguing Facebook’s changes could make it easier for users to create a ‘filter bubble,’ his opinion doesn’t account for the realities of Facebook’s use in everyday life.

Though it’s true people attract like-minded friends in the real world, Facebook is a world unto itself — specifically, one in which the concept of ‘friend’ is much more loosely defined. A study by Oxford University’s Robin Dunbar revealed that while the average Facebook user has 150 friends, only four of those friends are considered ‘dependable’ and just 14 would express sympathy in an ‘emotional crisis.’

The concept of constructing a vast-reaching online social circle where everyone gets along isn’t just unrealistic, it’s virtually impossible. Chances are some of your friends and family will still share news articles that contrast with your own views, especially since ultra-engaging fake news articles can still rise to the top of your feed by the new algorithm’s rules.

Whether you want to log on and learn about different worldviews or just want an animated address book, Facebook will remain a tool for people to utilize however they wish. 

Despite the necessary fears that accompany any social media update, nothing can or will stop users from speaking their mind if they choose to do so. We will continue to instinctively share their views, comment on those they disagree with and seek out the same diverse — or not diverse — range of opinions as we previously had. 

Josh is The Journal’s Assistant Lifestyle Editor. He’s a second-year Film and Media Major.  

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