‘Trending’ on Social Media Is Worthless nymag.com

Brian Feldman, New York magazine:

This is the other problem of “trending,” conceptually: It’s eminently gameable, but the platforms that use the term never make the rules clear. “Trending” is given the imprimatur of authority — videos or topics handed down from on high, scientifically determined to have trended — when really it’s a cobbled-together list of content being obsessively shared or tweeted about by people who love Justin Bieber. Or Logan Paul. Or who believe in crisis actors.

I increasingly believe that the code that drives social networks is built largely on an assumption of good user intentions. Yes, there are rudimentary tools to block users or report an offending post, but a lot of what makes these services so popular is that they assume that whatever you’re doing is probably okay. And there is nothing wrong with that, provided these services also aren’t: a) massively influential, and b) capable of having this philosophy exploited by bad-faith trolls, bots, and other bad actors. I don’t necessarily think that this is a naïve way to build a platform; I really do think that people are generally good, but it’s asking a lot for the handful of people who run these platforms to solve for integrity. Difficult as it may be, it’s necessary.