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

Published in Technical Communication 65.4 (2018). 

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.

Methods: I engage in a critical user interface analysis of 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 and processable. 

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.

Practitioner’s Takeaways:

  • Suggests that UX designers should be attentive to how technology designs create new relational circuits, along with how those relationships work to mediate the dissemination of politicized content.
  • Examines the potential impacts of a social media interface on its audiences.