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Posted by on okt 5, 2012 in Bibliotheek, Privacy, Social Media | 0 comments

Wat weet Facebook?

Wat weet Facebook?

Van de week leerde ik de reeks artikelen onder de titel The Value of Privacy kennen. In het kader van de sessie “Zeg mij wie uw vrienden zijn…“, gisteren bij de NHL in Leeuwarden, een welkome bron van informatie. Het was echter een artikel waarnaar binnen de reeks verwezen werd dat de meeste indruk op me maakte: What Facebook Knows. Hierin wordt uitgebreid ingegaan op het Data Science Team van het bedrijf. Uit het stuk:

Recently the Data Science Team has begun to use its unique position to experiment with the way Facebook works, tweaking the site—the way scientists might prod an ant’s nest—to see how users react. Eytan Bakshy, who joined Facebook last year after collaborating with Marlow as a PhD student at the University of Michigan, wanted to learn whether our actions on Facebook are mainly influenced by those of our close friends, who are likely to have similar tastes. That would shed light on the theory that our Facebook friends create an “echo chamber” that amplifies news and opinions we have already heard about. So he messed with how Facebook operated for a quarter of a billion users. Over a seven-week period, the 76 million links that those users shared with each other were logged. Then, on 219 million randomly chosen occasions, Facebook prevented someone from seeing a link shared by a friend. Hiding links this way created a control group so that Bakshy could assess how often people end up promoting the same links because they have similar information sources and interests.

He found that our close friends strongly sway which information we share, but overall their impact is dwarfed by the collective influence of numerous more distant contacts—what sociologists call “weak ties.” It is our diverse collection of weak ties that most powerfully determines what information we’re exposed to.

That study provides strong evidence against the idea that social networking creates harmful “filter bubbles,” to use activist Eli Pariser’s term for the effects of tuning the information we receive to match our expectations. But the study also reveals the power Facebook has. “If [Facebook’s] News Feed is the thing that everyone sees and it controls how information is disseminated, it’s controlling how information is revealed to society, and it’s something we need to pay very close attention to,” Marlow says. He points out that his team helps Facebook understand what it is doing to society and publishes its findings to fulfill a public duty to transparency. Another recent study, which investigated which types of Facebook activity cause people to feel a greater sense of support from their friends, falls into the same category.

Enkele reacties tijdens de bijeenkomst richtten zich op de kritische toon van Peter Olsthoorn en ons als panel, maar na het lezen van het gehele stuk is dat ook niet zo verwonderlijk, zeker niet na de beursgang van het bedrijf. Een aanrader daarom voor iedereen die zich wat wil verdiepen in de wetenschappelijke achterkant van Facebook.

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