Facebook, Twitter and other services seem to think that they know what you want to see in your social media streams more than you do.
(See Twitter CFO says a Facebook-style filtered feed is coming, whether you like it or not)
While they might try to sell this as a way to make your streams better and easier to use, the benefit lies entirely with them. By shaping streams they control the message, the trends, the advertising, everything.
I see stream shaping as very similar to cable television services that refuse to offer ala carte selection of channels. It is better for their business to force users into “packages” but much, much worse for customers. They use exclusivity and and pricing to force customers to choose all or nothing in their entertainment choices. Do we really want our social media streams being controlled in the same way.
Facebook, Twitter and others need to keep their hands (and supposedly intelligent software) off my social media streams. I will decide what is important to me. I will decide who I want to follow and read. I will decide what has value and interest to me, not them.
If they can’t provide this then I will choose some other source that can. In fact, I can see a very large opening for social media sites that specifically DON’T try to monitor, manipulate and monetize my stream to their advantage.
Facebook has already shown how they will manipulate News Feeds to their advantage in the name of money and control — forcing businesses to “Promote” their posts if they want them seen at all, even though individuals have specificaly said they want to receive those message by Liking and otherwise subscribing to pages and individuals.
Are we really destined to go down the same scarcity-based, authoritarian systems we have lived with for a hundred years, from newspapers, to radio, to television? The Internet’s promise is one of openness, personal control and egalitarianism. Methods like shaped stream and filtered feeds have no place on an open Internet. They are methods from a bygone era, not what we should expect, or accept, from 21st Century companies.