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Facebook, Google and Kafka

February 2nd, 2024 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, what’s on Facebook today?

I will confess that this is a regular prompt for my curiousity these days. (Yes, I know Facebook is now Meta. But it will always be Facebook to me.) It is the only social media platform I actively participate in and I do enjoy what it offers.

I am intrigued about the algorithm that Facebook employs. For those of you who may not know, this algorithm is a set of rules that evaluate and score each piece of content to identify the most relevant content for each user based on predefined factors. It applies these rules to determine what your feed displays. Some of what is appearing in my feed these days makes sense:

Lots of wildlife photographs and nature video reels. This makes perfect sense as I regularly post photographs to nature-related Facebook groups.  

Posts for the television series NCIS. Makes sense as that show leans toward my demographic (the 60+ crowd). I do enjoy that series and the various spin-offs from it.

Excerpts from old comic strips like The Farside and Peanuts (i.e. Charlie Brown & Snoopy). Makes sense as I am old enough to remember and enjoy those comic strips.

I am seeing lot of the “25 Most Embarrassing…” video reels – epic trips & falls and bonehead activities that end badly. Somehow the algorithm has figured out that these videos fall (no pun intended) into my guilty pleasures soft spot.

What is more intriguing, and a bit disconcerting, is that there is a clear connection between my Google search activity and what appears on my Facebook feed:

I had to buy a new smartphone and checked out the Rogers website to get an idea which phone I might want. Facebook now displays Rogers sponsored ads on my feed.

I am a Scotiabank customer and regularly access their website for online banking. Facebook now displays Scotiabank sponsored ads on my feed.

I check out the Toronto Maple Leafs game schedule regularly. Facebook now displays posts from the Maple Leafs page in my feed.  

I cannot help but think that Facebook and Google have some sort of agreement to exchange information. Does Facebook know all my Google search history and vice versa? These tech giants cooperating to track my digital footprint is too invasive for my liking.

Here is the really puzzling development. My feed recently included a link to an excerpt from Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis. Kafka is a Czech novelist and short story writer from the late 1800’s who wrote rather strange and highly metaphorical stories. The Metamorphosis is about a man who wakes up one morning to discover he has turned into a large insect.

Why is this disconcerting? In my university days (40+ years ago), I took a course on Kafka and wrote on essay on his work including The Metamorphosis. Somehow the algorithm determined that The Metaphor Guy has a latent interest in Kafka and that is very spooky!

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel (now out of print) which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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