Facebook recently received a considerable amount of flak for conducting experiments on its users, so it is only fair that Mat Honan from Wired ran an experiment on Facebook by indiscriminatingly “liking” everything that the platform served up. The result reveals just how much Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes branded content, especially so on the mobile app, while implicitly underscoring how greatly its business model depends on it.
The number of “Likes” on Facebook and Instagram, along with their counterpart “Favorites” on Twitter and Tumblr, has long served as a fundamental metric in measuring the success of brand campaigns on social media. It offers a direct and frictionless way for the audience to express their sentiments and an easy and quantified measurement for marketers. By messing with the data acquisition, this experiment rendered Facebook’s algorithm useless and raises concerns on the dependency of this easily manipulated metric.