Not only does Big Tech control what you can say (or if you can say it), they also control what you see and don't see. That neverending scroll on your social media feed is not random, and we all know it doesn't follow any logical or organized order. That is by design. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube use algorithms--computer bots--to steer you to certain content, which is designed to keep you scrolling or following rabbit holes to other content. These algorithms act based on the wealth of info these platforms have collected on you.
"High Tech Texan" Michael Garfield says there is a good reason for this. "Sifting through all the content on an account-by-account basis would be impossible, especially for users following thousands of accounts," he tells KTRH. "So there are algorithms that follow what you have liked or followed before, and they're going to serve those things up to you."
The idea behind these algorithms is to get you to react. While seeing the cake your Aunt Susie made might be interesting, you're more likely to react to a hot-button political or celebrity post. "They want interaction and they want reaction," says Garfield. "If you see something you don't like, yeah, you're gonna type something about it, you're gonna forward it to somebody."
"At the end of the day, it's eyeballs," he continues. "The more people click on something, the more potential revenue opportunities there are. It really is a marketing opportunity, like TV ads or ads on a radio station, it's a way of business."
You can manually change your feed settings to "most recent" or a chronological order on most platforms, but doing so is a hassle and often doesn't carry over the next time you log in. Both Facebook and YouTube at least offer the option of avoiding certain types of ads or content in your feed. But ultimately, users are at the mercy of these tech giants. "You do have the opportunity to stop it, and it's quite simply by deleting your account," says Garfield. "So it's a give-and-take...if you want to use these things, you generally have to play by these companies' terms."