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Designing Outrage, Programming Discord: A Critical Interface Analysis of Facebook as a Campaign Technology

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Purpose: Facebook is a place where political candidates actively advertise and campaign, and where a large population of citizens share and interact with information about political issues and with one another. I explore how Facebook's UX/interface design has contributed to user engagements that have implications for the current political context within which we live and work.
Method: I engage in a critical user interface analysis focusing on four key microinteractions on the site: browsing, reacting, commenting, and posting.
Results: My analysis shows that Facebook's user interface is structured around several design choices that create an ethic that prioritizes concision, speed, curation practices that limit divergent perspectives, and the flattening of complex identities and political commitments such that they are indexable, processable, and thus, monetizable.
Conclusion: The analysis presented here considers the relationship between user experience design and political engagement. As such, this paper helps industry practitioners to see 1) how technology designs create new, mediated intimacies over time and 2) how those relationships have implications for user engagement with politicized content.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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