The "Yellow Jackets" Riots In France Are What Happens When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News
The Yellow Jackets movement is what happens when you point Facebook's traffic hose at France's small towns. The question now is: How do you turn it off?
This week, protesters scaled the Arc de Triomphe, burned cars, and clashed with police in the third consecutive weekend of riots in France. More than 300 people were arrested in Paris last weekend alone, and 37,000 law enforcement officers have been deployed around the country to restore order.
The “Gilets Jaunes” or “Yellow Jackets” protests have only gotten more violent since they began last month. Three people have died, hundreds more have been injured. To hear the protesters tell it, they’re marching through the streets to fight back against rising fuel prices and the high cost of living in the country. Beyond that, though, it’s an ideological free-for-all. Fights have also been witnessed among demonstrators, and some have sent death threats to other protesters.
But what’s happening right now in France isn’t happening in a vacuum. The Yellow Jackets movement — named for the protesters’ brightly colored safety vests — is a beast born almost entirely from Facebook. And it’s only getting more popular.
Ryan Broderick for BuzzFeedNews argues that changes in the Facebook algorithm to emphasize local news helped lead to the recent riots in France. It’s an interesting argument, but I’ll let you make up your own mind.