Twitter, Facebook and Algorithmic Feeds

Joel Spolsky writes:

My new year’s resolution was to give up on reading Twitter and Facebook.

I gave up on the feeds because they were making me angry. A lot of times I was angry because of politics, but even on non-political things, the feeds seemed like they were full of conflict and stress.

I can’t tell you how much happier I am without them. Am I the only one that hated reading feeds? Do they make everybody unhappy? And if they make people unhappy why are they so popular?

Both Twitter and Facebook’s selfish algorithms, optimized solely for increasing the number of hours I spend on their services, are kind of destroying civil society at the same time.

I didn’t publicly declare it (yet) but I have also stopped using Facebook and Twitter since the beginning of the year. My primarily complaint is the algorithmic feed, that I do not get to control what I see, when and by whom. Feedly on the other hand (where I stumbled upon this post by Spolsky) lets me have that exact control. Spolsky fails to acknowledge the difference between a regular feed and an algorithmic feed.

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(Related: Some 8 years ago I wrote why I preferred Twitter over Facebook and other social networks of the time. One thing that wasn’t true of the feeds at the time was they were simple, real time on Twitter and somewhat delayed on FB, but transparent in how they were being generated.)