By Jen Jones, Co-Founder, Women You Should Know – Earlier this week we posted a story on our Facebook page about a pregnant teenage girl who was murdered by her 16-year-old classmate because “she waited too long to tell him about the baby and it was too late for an abortion.” The story is devastating and horrific, and certainly warrants the impassioned and robust reaction it received. Among those who commented, a few questioned what the story was doing on our page. This gave me pause.
It certainly was not the first time in the last seven plus years that we’ve covered or curated news concerning the epidemic of violence against women and girls, nor will it be the last. However, it was the first time I can recall followers asking, “Is WYSK going in a new direction… away from the positive and empowering?” We were told, “Badly done, WYSK, badly done.”
We value feedback. We appreciate perspectives. We love productive dialogue with members of our community. But this one string of comments left me to wonder why on earth anyone would think reporting on violence against women was a change of course or new focus for WYSK. Then it dawned on me… the Facebook algorithm, which we’ve dubbed “Algorithmia”.
For those not familiar, Algorithmia is a control-freak of a beast that “feeds” Facebook users’ feeds what it wants to. Pages like ours can’t control it, so we are at its mercy every single day in terms of which morsel of WYSK content it decides to push out to our followers.
Algorithmia thrives on “engagement”, which is when a Facebook post get lots of comments, shares, and likes, especially very quickly. It gets excited, then “rewards” pages like ours by pushing interaction-rich posts out to more people. So because this story was (and still is) getting a far more robust and vocal reaction than the stories that are the heart and soul of our work – the positive, inspiring, empowering – Algorithmia was “feeding” it to more users’ feeds.
Our mission remains to ensure that the triumphs and struggles of women have a powerful platform. We continue to proudly amplify voices and give voice to those who cannot or can no longer speak for themselves.
It’s not that our focus has shifted. The way Facebook works has shifted as it deploys new and increasing levels of control over what its users see… including those who actively choose to follow our page. The social platform that once allowed and encouraged us to build a beautiful digital community continues to be tweaked to keep us from getting all of our content out to the over 400,000 people who are a part of it.
So now that we have you here, there’s really important news we’ve been tirelessly trying to get out that Algorithmia’s been swallowing on Facebook.
We are currently fighting for our organization’s life. Headed into 2019, Women You Should Know can no longer survive without outside funding. If you come to Women You Should Know to learn and think, engage and delight, be moved and inspired, please consider supporting us. Every dollar contributed will help sustain our mission so we can keep giving women the coverage they deserve and providing you with the content, events, and programming you love into the coming year and beyond. Support WYSK Now.