A social media “feed” is the initial source of content viewed when you login to your social media account. Most every social media site has one and you’ve probably spent countless hours viewing them. What you probably haven’t considered though, is how that content ended up on your feed in the first place.
Why you see what you see
Generally speaking, feed content is curated based upon the likelihood of the user to interact with it. That could mean you click a link to read a blog post (hey like this one!), or you clicked play on a video. For the most part, this keeps the social media site fun and enjoyable. By giving users what they like, the site keeps the users coming back. But what makes enables these feeds to be so fun is also what makes them dangerous.
Social Media knows you
Social media sites know a lot about us. They know our friends, they know our likes, they know our age, our faces, relationships… they even know our emotions. And they use all of this information to target content at you.
In 2014 Facebook found, that by changing the content on a users feed, they could manipulate that user’s emotions. What’s scary is this study wasn’t performed by users who’d signed an agreement–it was performed on over 600,000 users without their knowledge (source).
This past week Facebook went under fire again after a news article uncovered Facebook’s ability to target ads based on user’s emotions (source).
Now Facebook isn’t the only site trying to target users, although it is one of the best. Instagram does it (source), Pinterest does it (source), Twitter does it (source), Tumblr does it (source), and many more.
## Any legal means
To put it plainly, these sites will use “any legal means” to target their content (source). Whether it’s a paid ad or just choosing which of your friends posts to put on your feed, social media sites know what a 15 year old boy online at 2:00 am is more likely to click a post by a bikini model than a 34 year old mother of three browsing at noon.
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