Engines of Polarization

A small change to an algorithm is at the heart of fake news, tribalism and extreme behavior on social media.

In October 2009 Facebook made a fateful change to its algorithm which has had profound and polarizing effects on society. It’s a lesson in unintended consequences — for, on the surface, this tweak to the platform was made to improve user experience. However, it was really a strategic shift towards hyper-monetization, and this drive to turn the free social network into a money-printing machine also ended up exacerbating the worst human tendencies.

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