Force Feed

Mitch JoelPosted by

I miss real editors making choices for me.

That’s how I roll. I like editors. I like publishers. I like publications. These are a group of people who spend their days curating and creating stories that should be brought to my attention. It could be the local newspaper (yes, I still subscribe). It could be something quirky, like Lost At E Minor. It could be the latest issue of Fast Company magazine. I like them all. I trust their editorial direction and decisions. They’re doing the heavy lifting, in a world where most people can’t be bothered with 140 characters on Twitter, so they’ve started snapping each other on Snapchat. Pictures good. Writing bad.

Ultimately, we will get the Facebook that we deserve. 

…And, that bothers me. How many friends do you have? Not on Facebook, but in the physical form? Think about those friends. Now, try this as an experiment: imagine asking them for a restaurant recommendation in New York City. How did that go? I’m willing to bet, that you could be the bestest of friends with someone, and you would never take a restaurant recommendation from them for a bunch of reasons (refined pallet, they’ve never eaten fancy, they have poor diet habits, etc…). Now, think about how these people have a direct correlation to their own circle of friends, how they see the world, and how adept they are at using digital technology? It turns out that our real “friends” can be quite different, when it comes to their digital representations. Meaning: super fun and smart in person, but when it comes to Facebook, there’s a real underbelly to them. These “friends” erode your social media experience. It’s the kind of stuff that lets the ugly side of opinions (which they see as news) seep into the feed and, to a certain degree, you see sides of people that you had never known (no matter how long you have known them). It’s not all bad. It’s just the many dimensions that shape your Facebook experience when your friends like, follow and regurgitate (or copy) the content that’s in their feeds.

Facebook is making Facebook more personal.

The other day, Facebook announced changes to the news feed. They also launched a News Feed Values to better explain their positioning. In short, we’re going to see more stuff from friends and family, less from publishers. Maybe you’re good with that. I’m not. I like seeing my feed interspersed with all kinds of interesting things. Frankly, I don’t trust my friends and family with the important task of informing the greater good about what’s newsworthy. This is why I “like” a lot of publications and this is why I want them in my feed.

Force feed me.

The “trending” feed doesn’t cut it, either. Still, I’m left wondering, if Facebook created some kind of opt-in or alternate feed that was a kind of commercialized feed, what could be? Imagine a “clean” feed for friends and family and a “clean” feed of publications, news outlets and brands that interest you? Look, we’ve already gone out and “liked” a bunch of these pages, why throttle that content? Why not make it easily accessible for those – like me – who actually enjoy the work that these editors, brands and content creators are doing? It makes sense… and it would probably make cents too, if you catch my drift?

The feed will never be perfect.

Whether it’s an algorithm, the full fire hydrant, friendly curation or what have you, there is no right answer here for Facebook. Still, Facebook is a business. The more brands and news that consumers want (and enable them to control the velocity) may be something coming in the future (who knows?). Until then, if Facebook throttles back on the real publishers, and hopes that our friends can do a good enough job of keeping us all in the loop… that’s cause for concern. Everyone loves the news feed (I sure do). So, what we should be asking for is more of it (and, maybe, more control over how much of what makes it through). I’m up for a force feed from Facebook, where I am seeing the publishers and brands that I have either liked, or may be relevant based on the algorithms.

How about you?