By Sakshi Upadhyay
You know the feeling when you are mesmerized by something new but over time it becomes annoying or worse? That’s how I feel about curated content.
Curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Typically, curation is used by content experts, for example art historians, to pull together a more focused collection of pieces to reflect a specific theme, perhaps renaissance paintings demonstrating the use of sunlight. Today, we see content curation in a variety of social media platforms such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, and even our favorite shopping websites. There is so much news available that it makes sense to take advantage of someone else’s expertise in reducing that vast amount of information to a smaller, more relevant and interesting set of information. What’s wrong with that?
By itself, curated content in social media is harmless. However, when you add blind faith and maligned intentions, it can quickly become a recipe for disaster. One recent example is the curated content seen on Facebook during the presidential election in the USA.
There is no question that Facebook shapes people’s perceptions. When you log into your Facebook account, you are offered a cascading news feed built from algorithms that feed on items you have ‘liked’, what you or your friends have shared, your profile specifications, and more. If you regularly ‘like’ Justin Timberlake posts more than Jay Z posts, the algorithm will try to please you by offering you more JT posts and fewer Jay Z posts. See where I am going with this?
Automated content curation is very likely why you saw more or less Trump or Clinton content in your feed. On top of that, things got worse when the availability of fake news and extreme clickbait skyrocketed. In fact, a Buzzfeed report showed that users interacted far more with the fake news as the topics had greater appeal to them. Some have gone so far to say that Facebook caused the Trump win.
Facebook is so inherently embedded in our lives that we rarely question it. We tend not to check the sources of news articles or facts in our feed and we assume them to be true.
While this is an amazing way for brands to stay rooted in the lives of consumers who love them, it can sometimes prove devastating. It is time that we, as content consumers, crawl out of this hole of curation and cast our net over a fresh and broader set of news sources. It’s time we take steps to know what we don’t know. It’s time to seek out feelings of wonder and excitement that come with experiencing something new. Are you ready to take the next step?