Tag Archives: social media

Parents, It’s Time to Talk About Our Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

As a Gen Xer, my daughters’ childhoods are captured in framed photos, memories, and photo boxes in the closet off my home office. I didn’t start using Facebook until they were both tweens, and perhaps that’s why I understood the importance of not posting photos or posts about them without permission. Tweens are at an age when even having parents is mortifying, and though I sometimes overstepped, I have their consent for what’s in those old Facebook albums and posts.

Fast forward to today, where the oldest members of the millennial cohort are – gasp – turning 40. Lifestyle blogging was in its heyday during the late nineties and early 2000s, and for a while, it seemed like everyone had a blog, especially moms. It wasn’t uncommon to hear graphic stories of diaper blowouts, potty training mishaps, mispronounced words, and other content that exposed the most intimate details of their child’s milestones and behavior.

The issue is that many of those children are now old enough to Google themselves, and those blogs and Facebook posts are impacting them in ways parents didn’t, and arguably couldn’t have anticipated. The children who were the subjects of those posts are in some cases mortified by the content, while the majority simply resents having had no say over their online presence. There’s even a portmanteau for the phenomenon – sharenting.

Perhaps there’s no better example of the conflict between the two perspectives than that of Christie Tate and her daughter. Back in January, Tate, who has been blogging about her family for over a decade, wrote an essay for the Washington Post titled, “My daughter asked me to stop writing about motherhood. Here’s why I can’t.” Though she’s been writing about her children since they were in diapers, it’s only recently that her nine-year-old daughter became aware of what her mom has been writing, and asked her to stop. Tate refused, stating,

They’ve agreed to a compromise where Tate will use a pseudonym rather than her daughter’s real name, and Tate has “agreed to describe to her what I’m writing about, in advance of publication, and to keep the facts that involve her to a minimum.” Her daughter also has the right to veto any pictures of herself she doesn’t want to be posted.

Tate faced considerable backlash, with many calling her selfish and coldhearted. Many on social media sites like Reddit have roasted her, though she did receive some support.

Fourteen-year-old Sonia Bokhari wrote an honest, insightful piece for Fast Company about what it was like to finally be allowed her own social media accounts – long past the age many of her friends had become active – only to discover that her mother and older sister had been documentary her life for years. “I had just turned 13, and I thought I was just beginning my public online life, when in fact there were hundreds of pictures and stories of me that, would live on the internet forever, whether I wanted it to be or not, and I didn’t have control over it. I was furious; I felt betrayed and lied to.”

Bokhari’s mother and sister meant no harm; they posted photos and things she had said that they thought were cute and funny. She explained her feelings to her mother and sister, and they’ve agreed that going forward, they’ll not post anything about her without her consent.

It wasn’t just the embarrassment of having the letter she wrote to the tooth fairy when she was five or awkward family photos. Her digital footprint that concerned Bokhari as well. “Every October my school gave a series of presentations about our digital footprints and online safety. The presenters from an organization called OK2SAY, which educates and helps teenagers about being safe online, emphasized that we shouldn’t ever post anything negative about anyone or post unapproved inappropriate pictures, because it could very deeply affect our school lives and our future job opportunities.” Bokhari concluded that “While I hadn’t posted anything negative on my accounts, these conversations, along with what I had discovered posted about me online, motivated me to think more seriously about how my behavior online now could affect my future.”

Her response to what she learned? Bokhari eventually chose to get off social media altogether.

“I think in general my generation has to be more mature and more responsible than our parents, or even teens and young adults in high school and college… being anonymous is no longer an option. For many of us, the decisions about our online presence are made before we can even speak. I’m glad that I discovered early on what posting online really means. And even though I was mortified at what I found that my mom and sister had posted about me online, it opened up a conversation with them, one that I think all parents need to have with their kids. And probably most importantly, it made me more aware of how I want to use social media now and in the future.”

For many of us, trying to clean up our digital footprint or that of our children feels a lot like trying to get toothpaste back into the tube or trying to make toast be bread again. Still, it’s important to try. You’re not only curating your own reputation; you’re shaping your child’s before they’ve ever had a chance to weigh in.

Consider your audience and your motivation, then evaluate whether or not what your sharing is worth the potential ramifications. The internet is the wild wild west – maybe you need to start acting as the sheriff of your own town.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Helping Your Teens Manage Social Media Stress

By Tracey Dowdy

I grew up in a rural community back in the 80’s. For me, connecting with my friends outside school mainly consisted of hours on a harvest gold, rotary dial, attached-to-the-wall phone. The greatest day of my life was when my father bought an extra-long cord so I could sit on the stairs and get what little privacy is available to someone with six brothers and sisters.

Kids today – for better or worse – have 24/7 access to their friends and peers. Passing notes in class means shooting a text and social media means your kids are hyper-aware of who is hanging out with who…when they are stuck at home doing nothing.

For many teens, that translates into a lot of stress. A study by the University of Glasgow found that teens often felt a constant need to be online and connected. Furthermore, the strain of the emotional investment manifested itself in poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and increased levels of anxiety and depression.

If you feel your child is showing any of these signs or you are concerned about changes in behavior, these tips from professional family therapist Roy Dowdy can help you manage those stress levels and help them find a balance.

Start with a conversation. Don’t come in with an agenda, just listen and let the child direct the conversation. Ask open ended questions like, “You seem stressed. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” or “What do you think will happen if you don’t respond to a text right away?”

Help them set boundaries. Part of parenting is teaching your children self-control, whether that’s choosing to have an apple instead of ice cream or stepping away from Snapchat at 11pm.

Be mindful not to judge. Being immersed in someone’s Instagram account or being obsessed with the latest Snapchat filter may seem absurd to us but did your parents ever really appreciate your obsession with Alan Longmuir from the Bay City Rollers? (Sorry, that got personal.) Social media is how your kids are connecting with their peers and just because we don’t value it doesn’t mean it’s not important to them.

Help them find real-world ways to connect. Social media isn’t going anywhere. The key is to help your child find ways to manage relationships in the real world. Challenge them to leave their phone in their locker, in their bag, or face down on the table and engage in face-to-face conversation. Make sure you’re modeling that behavior by having that kind of conversation with them.

Remember peer pressure is a big deal. Do you remember what it was like to be 14 and be torn between the agony of “I’m hideous, don’t look at me!” and “Ugh, why is everyone ignoring me?” Emotions and reactions are often oversized for teenagers, and helping them learn how to manage their reactions to what they see, don’t see, or feel hurt by on social media is a significant part of the maturity process.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Facebook or Fakebook? The Problem with Fake News

By Tracey Dowdy

Let’s play a game. How about “Two Truths and a Lie”? I’ll share three headlines from the last three months before the election and you decide which two are true and which one is a lie. Remember, all three are published news stories, but one is from a fake news site. Ready? Here we go:

A. “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hilary Clinton”
B. “It’s Over: Hillary’s ISIS Email Just Leaked and It’s Worse Than Anyone Could Have Imagined”
C. “Trump Sees Dead People: Promises Crowd He’ll Bring Joe Paterno Back from the Grave”

So which headline is from a fake news story? It’s B – the headline from an article published by Ending the Fed, a site notorious for its completely unreliable content. In fact, Ending the Fed is responsible for four of the top ten fake election stories shared by users on Facebook.

So much fake news has been shared on Facebook that Paul Horner, the man who created an entire fake news empire on Facebook has stated, “I think Trump is in the White House because of me.” Turns out he’s not the only one that feels fake news had an impact on the election or that the amount of fake news being generated has risen exponentially in the past few months.

Brendan Nyhan, Professor of Political Science at Dartmouth College who researches political misinformation and fact-checking says, “I’m troubled that Facebook is doing so little to combat fake news…Even if they did not swing the election, the evidence is clear that bogus stories have incredible reach on the network. Facebook should be fighting misinformation, not amplifying it.”

Considering that over 60 percent of U.S. adults get at least some of their news from social media, there’s a huge amount of false information being shared and accepted at face value. “During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyper-partisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.” (Buzzfeed, 2016).

Did you catch that? Fake news did better than real news among Facebook users.

When I was a kid, papers like the National Enquirer were the gold-standard of fake news. Bat Boy, Bigfoot and alien abductions were its stock in trade. The difference was we knew it was mostly fake with the occasional fact thrown in. Today, the fake news hides in plain sight, we just aren’t looking for it nor are we pushing back against it.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has stated he thinks fake news shared on Facebook had little effect on the election but nobody seems to be buying his position. In fact, it undermines his earlier claims that Facebook as a platform is an agent of change and has been influential on the world stage. Columbia University student Karen K. Ho tweeted, “Facebook and Twitter cannot take credit for changing the world during events like the Egyptian Uprising, then downplay their influence on elections.”

In response, five Facebook employees have launched their own investigation. “It’s not a crazy idea. What’s crazy is for him (Zuckerberg) to come out and dismiss it like that, when he knows,

and those of us at the company know, that fake news ran wild on our platform during the entire campaign season,” said one Facebook employee, who works in the social network’s engineering division.

Still, at the end of the day, Facebook is simply the vehicle. We are in the driver’s seat. If we want to stop the proliferation of fake news, it is our responsibility as news consumers to look to verifiable and legitimate sources and, for the love of all that’s good and right, don’t believe everything you read!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

How To Clean Up Your Facebook Photos

By Tracey Dowdy

Am I the only one with Facebook albums that need to get cleaned up? My Facebook page is cluttered with photos of things that were important to me years ago but now…not so much.

Of course deleting them is an option, but what if you want to save some? For example, that sandwich from your Vegas vacation. It was pretty epic. Alternatively, you could go through and select them one by one but who has that kind of time? Plus, Facebook compresses photos when you upload, so clicking and dragging to your desktop will leave you with an image of lesser quality than the one you uploaded.

Here’s the good news: there are options and most don’t take a whole lot of time.

Download it all, and I mean all

Facebook allows users to download a copy of their entire Facebook data, including photos. Go to Settings >Download a Copy and Facebook will download everything – every status, every chat log, every photo. Downloading doesn’t take long and once you have your copy, you can sort through what’s important to you and delete the rest. Keep in mind photos won’t revert to original quality – you’re getting the compressed version.

Use the Download FB Album mod on Google Chrome.

This extension allows you to download albums and photos and, while the photo quality is not great, it is decent. Install the extension through the Google Chrome store and you’ll see the Facebook icon appear in the top right corner of your screen. Simply open a Facebook album or page, click the icon, and select “Normal.” Press Command +S (iOS) or Control +S (Windows) to save your photos.

Use an app like Fotobounce.

Fotobounce is a photo management and sharing app that allows you to quickly download and organize your pictures online or offline. Once you create an account, login and access Facebook in the panel on the left side of your screen. Login to your account and once there you’ll be able to access all your albums.

To download, highlight the photo or album and select “Download” from the Edit pane. You’ll be prompted to choose where on Fotobounce you want to store the images – either a new album or add to an existing album. You can also upload to your Flickr account by choosing “Upload to Flickr” in the edit pane. Fotobook even has face recognition capabilities, works with Mac or Windows, and fully integrates with Twitter as well as Flickr.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

College Applications and Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

Mercifully for my generation, most of our bad decisions in high school are lost to memory or stuffed in a shoe box of photos forgotten in a basement. Not so for our kids. Thanks to social media, bad decisions are more closely documented than the Korean War.

Many a social media account is littered with Red Solo cups, questionable comments or Tweets, and sketchy language. So what, they’re young. Not a big deal, right?

Not so fast. You might want to take a second look at your child’s social media presence if they’re applying for colleges or university, as more and more schools are looking at those profiles when they screen applicants. According to a study by Kaplan Test Prep, 40% of Admissions officers are scrolling through social media to see if what’s on the application matches what’s on the web.

Kids will be kids, right? Sure, but if your student is competing for placement or funding, those pictures of Spring Break 2015 could mean the difference between a scholarship and a student loan. Does that mean they have to take everything down? Not necessarily.

Help them see cleaning up social media as a transition from high school to adulthood. Part of the college experience is cultivating who you are, who you want to be, and how you want the world to perceive you. Some students shut it all down and come off social media entirely, while others choose anonymity and don’t use their real names to avoid negative attention. It’s entirely up to the individual what works best, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Used as a self-marketing tool, social media can be an asset for your student. Creative students can use platforms like Instagram to showcase their art or photography, writers can utilize blogs, and Facebook can document humanitarian or volunteer efforts.

Encourage your student to comb through their social media accounts and use these guidelines from Kaplan as a litmus test of what stays and what goes.

  • Does this make me look like college material? It’s not just party photos or controversial statements; check your spelling and grammar. Little things weigh in the balance and can make a big difference.
  • Would I say this on television? Would you say it to someone’s face? Ask yourself: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Social media gives a false sense of bravado and anonymity. Be mindful of what you say. Your social media is a mirror of your character.
  • Does this post court excessive commenting? Are you trying to take a stand or are you just trying to stir the pot and be provocative? Taking a stand for what you think is right is important but realize your opinion may be polarizing. Be prepared to accept the consequences.
  • Is it offensive? Following on the heels of “Is what you’ve posted controversial?” ask “Is it at the expense of others?” Understand sincerity doesn’t translate to high moral ground or to truth. Many people hold sincere beliefs but can still be sincerely wrong.
  • Does everyone need to read this? Kaplan suggests that if the answer is “No,” don’t post it. Social media is littered with opinions, some good, some bad, some right, some wrong. If your goal is to present your best self to admissions and scholarship committees, cull your social media presence mercilessly. Use it as a platform to showcase your accomplishments and abilities to demonstrate why you are a superior candidate.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Snapchat Tips for Parents

By Tracey Dowdy

Teens and Snapchat go together like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, bacon and eggs, wine and cheese, mmmm, cheese…. wait, where was I going with this? Oh yes, teens and Snapchat.

With roughly 110 million daily users, Snapchat has surpassed even Twitter’s popularity, particularly with teens.

So what is it? Simply put, Snapchat is a free video and photo sharing app. Users can choose to send a private chat that disappears after one viewing or post a series of photos to create a Snapchat story. Teens love it because it gives them the ability to capture a moment in time, whether it’s silly, hilarious or awkward. Because snaps only last up to 10 seconds, there’s more freedom than with other forms of social media like Facebook and Instagram.

However, it’s not quite as user-friendly as Twitter or Facebook and the challenges inadvertently filter out the less tech savvy, like parents. Since adults are all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat is a place for our kids to virtually hang out without us and, just as with any other online activity, that is a plus or a minus depending on what your kids are up to.

Snapchat knows the risks involved and addresses them in their Terms of Use. They outline who can use Snapchat, what rights you have and what rights you grant them. There’s content and privacy guidelines mapped out as well as restrictions for copyrighted images, plus much more. There’s a fair amount of information and some is standard across social media platforms but it’s definitely worth the time to read through.

For example, users allow Snapchat access to their address book. It’s not uncommon for apps to request access to your private information but keep in mind that not everything you share is yours – you’re also sharing your friends’ information.

Snapchat also has the right to access your photos and videos. By agreeing to these “Terms of Use” users consent to “grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice solely in Live, Local, or other crowd-sourced content that you appear in, create, upload, post, or send.”

It’s also important to note that users are legally responsible for what happens while they’re logged on. That means underage teens exchanging nude pics are risking charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies and potentially being registered as sex offenders. Twenty states have laws specifically related to sexting. Teens need to remember that those kind of photos might not be as temporary or as private as they think.

Back in 2015, 18-year-old high school student Brandon Berlin was arrested for uploading nude and semi-nude photos of underage girls to Dropbox and sharing the images with friends. Most of the photos had been sent via Snapchat by the victims to their boyfriends who then forwarded them to Berlin. “This has to be a teachable moment for us with our kids. They have to understand that once you share something, even with just one person, once you share something online, electronically, you can’t get it back and you lose complete control over where it goes.” – Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman

Berlin’s senior quote in the yearbook? “I prolly had your pics.”

I must reiterate sexting isn’t the only or even the primary use of Snapchat. The intimacy that allows some to sext is valued by others for the simple reason there’s a lot less pressure. In the words of teenager Andrew Watts, “Snapchat has a lot less social pressure attached to it… If I don’t get any likes on my Instagram photo or Facebook post within fifteen minutes you can sure bet I’ll delete it.”

Snapchat’s popularity with teens is easily linked to the cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s easy to misinterpret the meaning behind a text, but a picture and caption or a 10 second video makes your meaning clear.

For more insight and tips on helping your kids understand the risks, Verizon has a great article by Larry Magid, “What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat”.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Celebrating the Positive Side of Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s not uncommon to get sucked into the vortex of Twitter and Facebook feeds, Instagram snaps and Pinterest boards and find yourself unhappy with everything from your hairstyle and gym habits to your throw pillows and non-Bento boxed school lunches.

Social media gets a bad rap and we like to blame it for society’s ills. There are those who abuse the platform – examples of online bullying, trolling, and body shaming are frequently in the news – but there’s even more examples of social media being used for good.

Back in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was all over social media. Everyone from Oprah and Bill Gates to people like me took part and as a result over $100 million dollars was raised for research into ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But the story doesn’t end there. Just this year the ALS association announced a breakthrough made possible by the money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge: the discovery of a gene partly responsible for the disease.

That’s far from the only example. Photographer James Rudland created the Sleeping Bag Appeal and collected hundreds of sleeping bags for homeless people in a matter of days. Movember, created by two Australian friends and used as a vehicle to raise money for prostate cancer, has generated donations of over $556 million, with funding going to 832 men’s health programs internationally.

Social media is a powerful means of communication when tragedy or natural disasters occur. Facebook has added Safety Check to its platform so users can instantly let friends and family know they’re safe; and first responders, governments, Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations frequently utilize social media to keep us up-to-date and informed during disasters.

Social media is indispensable when news stories like the Paris bombings or Louisiana floods occur. Always, always, always be careful of charitable links set up through social media, as there are those that use tragedy as a means to personal gain, but organizations like the Red Cross and World Wildlife Fund use their Facebook pages to link families and those in need to critical resources.

Sites like Facebook and Instagram are invaluable to families and individuals going through difficult times. They provide the opportunity to share the burden and allow friends and family to show support and offer hope. With his wife Joey’s encouragement, Rory Feek blogged about their journey as Joey battled cancer. Their story was both heartbreaking and inspirational, giving hope and encouragement to others facing similar struggles.

The impact of social media is undeniable. The power is unquestionable. The key is to use that power for positive change on both a local and global level.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Is There Life After Snapchat?

By Megan Valente

I once told someone that I considered Snapchat to be like an online video journal that not only documented the events that constructed my day, but also as a tool of reflection. She then scoffed and told me that was the stupidest thing that she had ever heard. If I’m being honest, I was deeply offended by it, until probably about…last week.

Snapchat has become so integrated into our daily lives that it is no longer surprising to see dog filters and flower crowns littered across our social media on a daily basis. I hear, “Hold on, I need to snap this” at least three to four times a day, and listen to my friends complain that they have to watch so many snapchat stories to clear their notifications. But what if I told you that you were living in a filter clad, destructive world and that the girl above was not entirely wrong?

Social media is a wonderful tool for networking, self-expression and commemorating occasions. However, it has also become a liaison for oversharing and, for lack of a better word, a distraction.

“But how could my Snapchat be distracting me? I get to talk to my friends more and like to take fun pictures of our adventures together. Distraction, pft.”

Put down your pitchforks and trust me – I get it. I too snap quick pics with my friends and like to share the fun things I do, but it has gotten to the point where this app has the ability to hinder life. It can be good for long distance friends but the constant contact with people through your phone can limit things such as, oh I don’t know, real face to face interactions. Actual face, not a face-swapped face.

And even when you do actually venture outside into the world – the world lit by sunlight, not the glowing screen of Netflix – your “coffee date with bae” suddenly turns into a phone fest.

I notice this most at college parties. I think I see more of the blinding lights of other people’s phones from Snapchatting the occasion than actually socializing and having fun.

“Was Carla at the party last night?”
“I didn’t see her, but I think I saw her phone case!”

Anyone can wave a phone around, and then go back to the corner of the room to post and make sure the guy/girl they like saw it, but not everyone can actually have a good time.

So yes, the girl mentioned before was pretty harsh about how stupid my idealization of Snapchat was, but maybe she wasn’t entirely wrong. Spend a week using your actual eyes and not your phone screen to live events. You might even save some battery.

Megan Valente is a lifestyle blogger and barista and is currently attending Montclair State University. Follow her on Twitter at @TheDayILived.

Is Facebook Biased?

By Tracey Dowdy

By now we’ve all heard the allegations that Facebook is manipulating what shows up in your newsfeed, particularly in the trending topics. Is the story a storm in a teacup – an almost welcome respite from the endless election coverage – or is there an actual bias in what we see?

The answer is yes and no.

Consider these statistics:

  • There are 7 billion people on earth
  • Of those 7 billion, 3 billion have access to the Internet
  • Of those 3 billion, 1.65 billion are active users of Facebook

If that doesn’t tell you the scope of Facebook’s influence, consider that a recent report by comScore reveals 20 percent of all mobile time is spent on the Facebook app; 63 percent of Americans see Facebook as their primary news source; and 31 percent rely on Facebook for breaking news. That, my friends, is a lot of influence. Manipulating content is a serious allegation.

We know Facebook uses algorithms to curate your newsfeed, so you see more of who and what you like. That makes sense – the more you see that appeals to you, the longer you stay on Facebook.

Where things get murky is that it’s not just algebraic formulas that determine the content you see. Those algorithms track what’s being talked about based on key words, phrases and how frequently they appear, then human editors take that information and use their own judgment to decide what gets pushed and how to frame the story. That naturally impacts the content we see.

As a publicly traded company Facebook is constantly looking for ways to generate income, meaning it frequently introduces new features in an attempt to keep you engaged. It recently added “Live Video” so you’ve likely started to see notifications like “Jim Gaffigan is live right now,” with the hope you’ll jump in and see what’s happening but ultimately keeping you on Facebook longer.

Facebook relies on ten news organizations for content: (BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo and Yahoo News. According to the allegations, some editors either blacklisted or highlighted stories based on their own bias, rather than Facebook guidelines. Facebook pays news organizations like Buzzfeed and The New York Times to generate content for them that opens in Facebook, so you don’t have to leave the site to get your news and information.

There are also allegations Facebook tended to downplay content that favored conservative news. According to Gizmodo, Facebook employees admitted “they were suppressing conservative news, mostly because the majority of the employees working to curate the news weren’t conservative.” Whether those allegations are true or not remains to be seen, as both Facebook and the Senate are investigating.

The one piece of good news is those leaked documents indicate Facebook is working hard to filter out those wretched clickbait articles that take you to a sketchy website.

So where does that leave us? Pretty much back where we started actually. It’s unwise to get your news from one source, whether it’s Facebook, Fox News or CNN. It’s human nature to have a bias, and no matter how ethical the journalist, it’s impossible for that bias not to have an impact on their perspective.

For us as Facebook users, continue to engage with content. Hide, unfollow or skip content that doesn’t appeal to you and like, share and comment on the content that does. Click on articles that interest you and share them on your own feed. Those algorithms are always at work in the background, and ultimately Facebook wants to please you so they can keep you engaged and coming back for more.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.