Facebook algorithm under fire in Sweden – found revealing anonymized sources

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how an unintentional side effect of the Facebook recommend-algorithm, shows information that the publisher might not want attached to it’s posts.

My example was of a text about the downfall of streaming music service Grooveshark:

Grooveshark 2

The Next Web wrote about how disgruntled Grooveshark employees had backed up the shut down service, and put it back online. But The Next Web made a point of not revealing the new URL.  That didn’t really matter though, thank’s to Facebooks related links-box, people could find it attached to the post anyway.

Now a high profile murder case in Sweden has put the links-box under public fire. The background is a young woman, Lisa Holm, who suddenly disappeared in a small town, in an otherwise calm part of Sweden, only to be found murdered a couple of days later.

Fredrik Wass, well known blogger and senior advisor at Intellecta Corporate writes:

Swedish racists sees a chance to connect the murder to immigration issues, based on information of the arrested suspects background. Swedish media is very careful when it comes to naming suspects, and their personal details. But Avpixlat, a racist and xenophobic site, publishes names of several of the suspects, even prior to any verdict.

And here’s the kicker: Facebooks algorithm is indifferent to the difference between say, Aftonbladet – a major swedish tabloid, and Avpixlat, a xenophobic site associated with Sverigedemokraterna, a swedish right-wing party. Links be links and if there is a pattern on how people interact with them, Facebook will use that.

And so, the efforts of Aftonbladet to anonymize the alleged killers, is thwarted by Facebook efforts of connecting related content.

Just below the article, the names were shown (removed in the screencap). The headline of the middle link reads ”These were arrested for the murder of Lisa Holm”:
avpixlat-maskad

Sweden has a long tradition on journalistic ethics and standards  and most editors-in-chiefs, as well as individual journalist and reporters, take pride in following the set up rules.  Facebook is a new arena to many and I think as awarense increases, this will resurface as an issue and a problem when media see content attached to their own posts, content that counter their own journalistic considerations.

Not to mention when native content publishing increases as an overall strategy to reach the audience.

The question is, will Facebook address this as an issue, or will the journalists just settle in?

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