Cats or dogs? No matter who you are, you're most likely a lover of either one or another.
Let's say there's a new pet shop in town that you'd like to visit. It's big and houses a lot of adorable pets to choose. As a cat lover, for example, you would like to see how their collection can add to your satisfaction.
Visiting the shop, you're greeted by the kind owner himself.
The first thing you told him, is that you're a lover of cats and dislike dogs. For sure, he will show you to the cat's corner and not the dog's. Why? Because he knows that showing dogs won't please you. He wants you to buy something from him.
So that cute young and tamed Beagle is out of the equation. He also thinks the muscular Rottweiler on the front display will freak you out that he had to ask his employee to put it away.
In short, he will try to keep those hairy mutts away from your sight, and as far away as he can. He probably won't show you the reptile section either, nor the rodents, unless you asked.
So for you, it's either the Persian cat or the Siamese. Or maybe the Angora? Ragdoll?
This is similar to how social media networks work.
Social media works with the information you've given them. From the things you typed on your profile, your friends, the Pages you liked, the posts you commented on and so forth.
Supported by ads, social media wants you to engage with posts by showing what they think will suit your taste. Using all the information gathered from your activities, they will show you what they think will appeal you, by digging through their inventory to see what content will make you eager to engage.
By showing you the things people want to see and the things people want to hear, the result is they are cocooned to their own thoughts. Seeing posts that are somehow relevant only to them, they're beginning to think that they are correct.
This creates biases.
There will be opposing forces with different opinions. And social media will meet them from time to time, just to see what happens. For sure, there will be debate. But this is what social media wants. They want engagement: they want you to stick on their platform as long as possible, so they can show you ads that will earn them money.
This is business. For social media networks, this is how things work.
No matter who is behind the system: humans, AI, algorithms or anything, businesses will and always prioritize things that appeal their customers.
And fake news, are the byproducts of these biases. How they will affect you and those around you, depends on how your perceive them.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been targeted by many governments around the world. They wondered why the company kept the issue quiet, and why it failed to notice such weaknesses in its system.
If you keep your social media activity to a minimum, or put less information about yourself, and not allowing anything from tracking you around the web, your personal information won't worth much as a commodity.
Social media networks are sophisticated systems built by people that are best on their fields. The data they collect on a daily basis, piles up. The more you're active on social media networks, the more they understand you. They worth a lot, and many people just want to get their hands on them. Here social media networks have the responsibility to keep those information private and away from third-parties.
In Facebook's case, it has grown so large that it's weakened by its own weight.
You're the customer, and you're leading the way. Just like the pet shop owner, Fcebook is just the host that shows your around, pointing to the things you'd love the most, and away from dogs that you probably hate.
But here's the difference. While that pet shop work on a local scale, Facebook is a lot larger and works on a global scale. The pet shop sells you pets for revenue, but Facebook earns from your engagement. It's your data that they want.
If privacy is an issue, it's wise that you don't tell the owner of the shop your very detailed taste. Just walk to the section and buy that Bengal cat you had in mind.