Not just the news

I find this more than a little disconcerting and I don’t think that education should ignore this.

You can’t ignore the fact that students are so connected with their personal devices, home devices, and what their school provides them.  It’s a rare student that doesn’t have a Facebook account.  Well, at least those who are 13 or over because that’s the rule.

How much time is spent there is kind of scary.  You know the drill – have another tab open when working; quickly hide the screen when teacher or parent walks by; walks into a telephone pole while reading on the street; notifications going off during dinner…

And, in the bizarre election world this time around, Facebook and the way that it delivers the news is now a concern.

Facebook delivers the news?  Well, sure.  Like any big service, it seems that they want to be all things to all people.  Log in once to Facebook and just stay there.  It’s a smart business plan; they get the users and the revenue from advertising.  It only makes sense that efforts are made to set up that one environment to appeal to everyone.

Except the American conservative right wing. 

Or at least that’s their concern, so today Facebook is meeting with representatives to talk about the issue.  I’m sure that it will be the lead story everywhere there’s news, including Facebook, tomorrow.  How does Facebook respond to claims that it censors the news in favour of a particular political thinking?

As outsiders, the entertainment value from the race to nominations just gets more intriguing.

Now, I will confess that I do skim the stories that Facebook provides in my trending column.  Here’s a sampling of what was offered yesterday.

As it would happen, I also went to Sobeys yesterday and that selection of stories reminds me of standing in line to checkout and skimming the magazines that are strategically placed in racks to grab your attention.  But, there was nothing there to attract the attention of this Canadian news reader.

How about politics?  What was our Prime Minister up to?

Well, nothing to catch the eye of the top trending stories in the politics category.  At least, in Sports, there was one reference.  The Marlies are going on to the Calder Cup Eastern Finals.  The best part is that the trending stories tend to be another form of random news aggregator.  The worst part was that I couldn’t control what I might have an interest in.  However Facebook defines trending is how I get it.  The big question to be answered – do they censor that content?

So, in total, I struck out on any Canadian news update.  So, I went to my feed of stories from those I follow.  There I found things from the Windsor Star, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail.  Unless I clicked through to their timeline, it was just a single story (and comments) mixed in with the other things that are normally there.

For the complete picture, of course, you have to go to the primary source on their website and leave Facebook completely.  It’s also Digital Literacy 101 that you compare stories of interest from a couple of sources because of the editorial policies of a single source.

It’s a reminder for me that Facebook isn’t my sole source for news.

Back to the original complaints.  Is there a concern that the voting public is only getting their news from this single source?

Back to education.  What a wonderful chance for educators to step up and analyse a news feed with students and compare it to a more traditional approach to getting the news online.

There may come a time when Facebook nails it but that time hasn’t arrived yet.

How about you?  Do you get news from Facebook?

4 thoughts on “Not just the news

  1. For me, Facebook is like a Smart Phone. I don’t have either. 🙂 That said, I think that Facebook (and Smart Phones) play an important role in the lives of most teenagers. What a great opportunity to teach critical thinking skills. I see a chance to compare the news items on Facebook to those in different newspapers. Looking at how items are reported by different places (including different newspapers) would make for a great activity, and could even overlap with the idea of “point of view” (a Language expectation). So many possibilities … I’m curious to hear what others think and what they might do.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree totally. I know that many have done your activity with newspapers; I guess it’s just reality that it gets moved to social media.


  3. I’d say I get most of my news from the radio on my drive to and from school. With a 50 minute ride and listening to NPR news stations I get a lot of it that way. My default opening page on web browsers is Bing and that gives me a lot of news as well. I typically scan that once or twice a day for more news. I look at the Facebook trending links but generally it seems geared to offbeat things rather than real news. So I don’t pay it a lot of attention unless I am bored and open the larger report of headlines like you show here.


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