Tailored to You

Elise High

Social_networking_servicesWe, those of Generation Z, have grown up surrounded by a plethora of technology. We expect to have searches delivered in a matter of seconds, we know what our friends are doing in the same moment they are doing them, and we will all have the strangest shoulder/finger/hand/neck/back/carpal tunnel problems because of our prolonged use of our technological devices.

Social media has, undoubtably, become one of the cornerstones of the modern day teenager. And, as with all things, we have been trained to view information in a certain way on these sites. From the founding of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram, the news feed and search algorithms were originally set in a reverse chronological order. In recent times, this practice has changed.

Facebook became the pioneer of the new algorithms in 2009. Of course, algorithms are changing all the time to improve the experience of the users, but this new algorithm will change the layout of the site’s famed and much loved news feed. This algorithm changed from the original reverse chronological order to a more personalized feed where posts from friends you interact with more or, based on previously recorded data, posts you would be more interested in show up first.

Twitter followed in February 2016, changing their algorithm so that if a user was not logged onto the site for a time, the older, more popular tweets would be at the top of the user’s feed. Instagram became the latest social media site to leave the reverse chronological feed in the dust. The new algorithm changes the news feed page to a completely personalized array of posts, so that the user can maximize their time on the site by seeing the most important posts first. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, stated in an interview, “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed; what this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”

Feeds are how we get our information now; it’s how we stay up to date with our friends. Long gone are the days of the popularity of search engines, social media is the way to go. Sharon Moy, a junior in ACAHA, when asked about the popularity of social media stated, “I think that the role of social media is positive to a certain extent. It’s great for convenience and social interaction with those who live far away. It’s also great for finding new products through advertisements and learning about current events. However, when it begins to inhibit productivity and serve as a distraction to schoolwork, then it becomes a negative influence. It is extremely easy to get distracted by social media and spend a plethora of time on it when not necessary.”

However, search engines have also adapted to the changing times. Google, for instance, has also changed it’s algorithm, which ended in a bit of a sticky situation. Google now personalizes searches based on what sites the user previously visited, but, in addition to the personalization, Google also began favoring Google-sponsored sites and those sites would often appear on the first page of the search results. This has created a monopoly-like situation that Google has since been taken to court for.

Ms. Moy said in response to the change to the algorithms, “I think that the change is good because it allows people to see what they are really interested rather than spending time scrolling through things that they don’t really care about. I personally like the change and I think it is more effective and that technology is being used to its optimal ability by contouring to the interests of users.”