Who’s influencing who?

Assignment 1: Proposal-

We can all agree that Facebook connects us to family and friends from all over the world. We come together via particular interests shared through friends as well as exposure to different news segments, we can also agree that Facebook can dramatically effect us through online bullying and what generally appears on our newsfeeds. Through the exploration of how newsfeeds work, a strong but confusing algorithm appears. So are we influenced by Facebook or are we helping create what we are influenced by? 

Within a research paper conducted by Tim Paek, Michael Gamon, Scott Cunts, David Maxwell Chickering and Aman Dhesi they run through a set number of research projects which support their statement of predicting the importance of newsfeeds and posts to users through Facebooks algorithm. This particular paper supports the idea that the ‘specific’ media popping up on individual user’s newsfeeds are in fact caused by what or who we have interacted with on Facebook.  

Are algorithms filtering through there own predictions of what you may and make not like though, while pairing it with something that someone else has found popular? This can create a newsfeed not entirely created by users thus Facebook is the influencer.           

A particular paper conducted by the department of Statistics, Stanford University looks at one particular data set regarding ‘investigation of diffusion through a large social media network.’ With a focus on Facebook pages and the way information is filtered and passed on between users we can see how quick something can go viral based on a ‘short diffusion chain’ as discussed by Cameron A. Marlow. With users beginning to create what they want to go viral and how quick they can make it happen, it is easy to understand that what appears in our newsfeed goes hand in hand, with what we are able to diffuse.

In turn, Tim Paek and Stanford university share the same idea that what we do on the internet greatly effects what we view on our newsfeeds all due to the generative algorithm. But how effective are these algorithms. Do we as users take particular attention of what is and isn’t on our newsfeeds? 

Cross cutting content is explored by Eytan Bakshy, expressing the concern of newsfeeds becoming dense and misinforming by leaving out and filtering newsfeeds of particular news topics. There are many negatives to becoming your own influence through algorithms, with one main cause clearly expressed by Bakshy, we are only being exposed to what the selective majority of active users are cross cutting.

Introducing a concept known as ‘filter bubbles,’ Solomon Messing and Sean J. Westwood suggest that content has to be given to us in the first place before anyone can curate and filter through it, therefore suggesting that the media may be influential until the user decides how to best interact with it, thus creating the starting point for the algorithm to generate a filter. This supports Bakshy’s idea of cross cutting content through the process of curation and exposure of specifically selected content.

 My research therefore will be entirely based on what sources of media users are exposed to on their newsfeeds. This will portray what they are most interested in, exposing whether we are indeed our own influence online through Facebook newsfeeds or whether Facebook influences us.  





2 thoughts on “Who’s influencing who?

  1. I love the topic you have come up with. It’s very relevant and interesting to most UOW students. You’ve clearly done reliable detailed background research. However, you have not included any data research which I think would greatly benefit this post (mostly because it says to in the assignment) and it help you when you start completing your research project. Another suggestion would be to go into a tiny bit more depth as to how you’ll be conducting your primary research. Overall a great blog and I look forward to reading more about your research topic.


  2. Hi Jade 🙂 I like the topic you’ve chosen to research into- it’s very relevant. Often I am scrolling through my facebook newsfeed and see ads for clothing or shoes that I have previously looked at on ASOS or general pants and I think to myself, how does facebook know I want this? Is it trying to taunt me? And I often ask myself whether or not my newsfeed is showing me the whole thing. Are you planning on looking purely at facebook (because it is more news based) or will you branch onto other social media platforms? I’m sure you know that Instagram has recently changed and will now only show you popular posts rather than in chronological order, is this something that is happening on facebook? Often I will miss posts that my friends share or upload because they aren’t “worthy” enough to be on my newsfeed… and then I see posts from people I hardly ever contact and question why were are even facebook friends, all the time. How are you going to look into this? Because it is such a technical question, a lot of your research will have to look into the facts online, but how are you going to incorporate this with university students? Do you want to see how this effects our media consumption, by not being able to see the things we should see? Will you do a survery/focus group? I think having a chat with some people in class will be beneficial to your research. Good luck with it 🙂


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