Excerpted from How Algorithms Are Changing What We Read Online by Russell Smith:

Articles that show low engagement typically get sidelined in favour of pieces that show more, a measurement that, along with all of the above, takes into account the click-through rate, or CTR. “You’re looking at your analytics,” (Andrew )Gorham explained to me, “and you’re saying, Holy shit, this story’s got a high CTR, let’s move it forward. Surface it—share it on Facebook, put it on the home page, release a news alert, put it in the newsletter.” That support is key to keeping engagement up. “If we don’t juice it,” he said, “it just evaporates.”

In practice, this ensures the less read become even less read. It creates what one might call popularity polarization: a few pieces rise to the top, leaving the rest to fend for themselves. With print, this didn’t happen as much. Flipping pages, you would see every article somewhere. But, on your phone, you scroll through what’s been selected for you. And that selection likely reflects a ruthless narrowing of editorial values and priorities. “You don’t try to do everything for everyone,” is how Gorham described it. “It’s all about swinging for the fences. Don’t hit singles, don’t play small ball. You pick your one and you hit it hard.”

You can read the entire article at The Walrus, HERE.

This means that in today’s world we can no longer trust the editorial boards to curate our news for us.  We have to take greater personal responsibility for the information we ingest, and make a real effort to ensure our digital diet is useful and balanced.

1 Comment

  1. markonit

    …but how can we be sure that the information that we do choose, even after close inspection and review, is information that can be counted on..? The QAnon a**holes were not just fooled because they are foolish… the content certainly LOOKED like it was accurate and objectively obtained (to them, at least)… and “reputable” sources have had the bad habit of misusing propaganda… but watching that guy quote some of the sources he authenticates as if he was a Grandpa trying to be “hip” by using the internet, ironically, gives these crackpots credibility, constantly narrowing the filter of the traditional news sources, making it harder to dispense information through traditional and extra-traditional means…


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