Having thus far studied Apple, Google and Blogging, week four saw out attentions turn to Facebook and Amazon. These two companies make up half of the so-called “big four”, alongside both Apple and Google, which has seen the process of vertical integration in the last few years (more on that later).

In order to learn about the inner workings of Facebook we were introduced to an article by technology writer Will Oremus which discussed the numerous algorithms used by Facebook in order to work their Newsfeed system. The article gave a huge insight into the ways in which Facebook aim to rank posts from an individual’s set of friends, groups and liked pages in order of their preferences based upon various factors, such as the number of likes, clicks, shares and comments on certain posts.

Oremus’ piece reveals that Facebook uses an algorithm called “Prediction Algorithm” which gives the hundreds of posts of an individual’s feed a “relevancy score” based upon the actions of the user. Then, the posts with the highest “relevancy score” are ranked at the top the user’s Newsfeed and those of little relevance are disregarded.

Surprisingly, the article also revealed the qualitative surveys that Facebook have increasingly used during the past few years. Rather than being merely using qualitative data to order posts based upon data such the number of likes, shares, comments etc, Facebook began interviewing thousands of its users in order to refine the accuracy of its Newsfeed. Participants were shown numerous examples of typical posts and asked to rank which of them they prefer as well as being asked why they had liked certain posts and not others.

On the whole, the article changed my perception of Facebook and made me question why certain posts on my own Facebook Newsfeed were ranked above others.

This week also saw us introduced to the Amazon Kindle app on the smartphones. The app allows users to add various articles, stories and reports to their reading lists which gives a far better user interface reading on the Kindle app. Although it’s practical applications seem limited to me at the moment, I’m sure with time the app will become more and more useful to me throughout my time on the course.


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