Facebook says roughly one in seven people on the planet log in at least once a month. And yet, how News Feed works remains bafflingly opaque, like a secret box of technology, algorithms and magic that remains one of tech’s bigger mysteries. An entire consulting industry is built around trying to game it (think SEO for Google), and publishers invest enormous amounts of energy into succeeding on it, but as soon as people start to figure it out Facebook tweaks its secret recipe and everything goes out the window.
Ferguson is about many things, starting first with race and policing in America.
But it’s also about internet, net neutrality and algorithmic filtering. It’s a clear example of why “saving the Internet”, as it often phrased, is not an abstract issue of concern only to nerds, Silicon Valley bosses, and few NGOs. It’s why “algorithmic filtering” is not a vague concern.
It’s a clear example why net neutrality is a human rights issue; a free speech issue; and an issue of the voiceless being heard, on their own terms.
Steve Terrill is a journalist who works in Rwanda. Or at least he worked in Rwanda, until he accidentally got the office of Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame to implicate itself in a long-running online harassment campaign. On the latest episode of TLDR, Alex talks to Steve about inadvertently exposing the Rwandan government’s most prolific troll, and being banned from the country as a result.