On Friday, 22 September at 11.25pm, I shared the article below on Facebook. It attracted one like and a comment, to which I replied. I thought nothing further of it.
The next day, I happened to glance at my Facebook page. The post had vanished! How strange.
On closer enquiry, I found that the post still existed on Facebook, but it had just disappeared from my Facebook page, which meant any visitors to my page would not be able to see it. Why might this have happened?
Well, take a look at the title of the article: “Artificial Intelligence Pioneer Calls for the Breakup of Big Tech”.
Had Facebook just censored a post which was critical to its own interests?
Facebook, along with Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, are Big Tech. They have extensive power to shape and control the information that we share and consume. And Facebook appears to have used this power to hide a post it didn’t like.
My blog has a limited following, so the impact of this one incident is small. But is the same thing happening elsewhere to bigger media outlets? How are the biases and priorities at Facebook shaping the way we think about the world? How authentic is the information we find on Facebook? And who may have paid to place it there?
In the context of Facebook allowing Russian fake news to influence the course of the American election, these are not hypothetical questions.
The free market usually works best, but what happens when it fails due to excessive concentration of power?
Has the same thing ever happened to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.