Mark Zuckerberg has always said he wants to build Facebook into “a utility,” and he’s arguably succeeded. But utilities, because they’re so important, are highly regulated. Facebook is approaching utility-level importance, but it answers to no one — not even, given Zuckerberg’s control of the company, its shareholders. The irony here is that the government used to more actively regulate large media companies to prevent them from abusing their power.
There’s also room for users to engage in self-help here. If you find it creepy that a secret Facebook algorithm has so much influence over your reading habits, there are a lot of other ways to find news stories that are less prone to manipulation. You can subscribe to your favorite sites using an RSS reader. You can spend more time on Twitter, which shows posts in a more chronological order, leaving less room for manipulation. Or you can browse the web the old-school way: bookmarking the homepages of your favorite news sites and visiting them directly.