Andrew HerrinTuesday, April 4, 2023
"Likes" affect the way we perceive information. This especially applies to teenagers. A study by UCLA’s Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center shows that teens have a higher chance of liking posts with higher numbers of "likes" already on the posts. It did not matter what the post was. It didn't matter if if the post was about food, about cigarettes, or whether it was their own post. I know from experience that when I am on TikTok, I will automatically scroll past a video if the number of likes are extremely low. The opposite is true as well. I find myself more likely to stay if I see the video has 100,000+ likes.
Add to the picture that people are more likely to click on and read news articles they likely agree with based on the headline. That perception, before the article is even read, can drive up those all-important likes. But news that is liked is not always true. If an opinion piece you agree with is presented as a news article, then you are more likely to like it and click on it. Since the likes have now increased, people are naturally more drawn to that "news" and the cycle continues irrelevant of the accuracy of the piece.
And once dislikes are included, the way people interact with the content becomes even more problematic. "Dislike-bombing" is when people dislike or give a thumbs-down to a video for the sake of increasing the number of the dislikes. But there is no way to tell whether a post is being disliked-bombed or actually disliked. If content is controversial, it will often get disliked immediately by people who disagree with it. That gives a distorted view of how controversial or unliked a topic is.
Now, enter the Microsoft Edge browser, standard on Altamont computers. When you open it, you immediately see all sorts of reports, with all sorts of reactions. You might ask, so what? Well, all the reasons I mentioned above come together to support one conclusion: Altamont should not allow Microsoft Edge's news feed on school computers. Edge's default news feed displays both likes and dislikes on news content, some of which is of dubious quality, and all of which influences the likelihood of teenagers reading the articles and forming opinions based on them. In my experience experience, dislike-bombing seems extremely common on Microsoft Edge. I have only seen more likes than dislikes in articles about pets. Having Microsoft implies the school is endorsing this type of "journalism."
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