By Anupum Pant
I had to say this a couple of weeks back. But, now I think, I’ve gravely been irritated by Facebook to let it out. So here goes a post on how Facebook is repeatedly trying to make you confirm your own pre-conceived notions and is basically making you an ignorant person everyday, is hurting page owners, and they are doing all of this to make short-term money for themselves. It is evil. That, is the problem with Facebook.
Almost every good thing you want to see is hidden from you on Facebook
Okay, let us start with my Facebook page. I know it is a small one, with just 446 likes (as of today). That said, I can tell you one thing for sure, I never forced any one of these people to like my page, nor have I ever advertised my page on Facebook to amass likes. All, or may be most of the people who like my page wished to clearly subscribe to my content and my views. Clearly, they wanted to be updated on the things I was posting. But Facebook tells me, that isn’t happening, unless I pay them the money.
Now take a minute to look at the screenshot below:
See the first post in that list. Of all the 446 people who’ve subscribed to the page, this appeared on only 15 news feeds. Moreover, the chances are high that all of these 15 people must have not even scrolled down to see the loaded post. So, probably 10 of the 15 loads were just useless loads. 5 of them who actually saw the post, decided (probably subconsciously) to not engage – that is understandable. Even if all the 15 people did see this post, how is that fair?
15 out of 446! It is Facebook’s way of telling me that you can’t stay in touch with your audience unless you pay us. See that bright “Boost Post” button? That opens up a pop-up where you have to pay rs 2000 to reach the audience. I’m not in a position to pay that much for something which should have costed nothing. Does twitter hide posts from your audience? No it shows your tweets to everybody! Does Instagram do it? No, but may be Facebook will change that too! Is YouTube doing that? No! Does any other social networking website does it? No!
Basically, I get nothing for having a Facebook page anymore. I get zero traffic from my page. The highest reach a post got there (61) was because someone from those 5-10 people to whom it was showed initially, liked it. And then a series of people started liking it – I got a total of 5 likes on that. 5 Likes is big for me. The number is mostly 0.
Also, this was not how Facebook worked before this. Before a recent change it brought in, Facebook posts were shown to many of your audience. Say organically, from 446 fans, a post would have reached about 200 people – that isn’t too good either – should have reached all 446 of them! Page owners don’t get even that anymore. Out of hundreds of people whom my voice should reach, it reaches people in single digits.
That is the story from my point of view. Or from the side of business owners and the way Facebook chooses to cut their voice to reach lesser people unless they decide to pay Facebook.
I’m reaching 3% of my audience, it can’t get worse. I feel like an orator who has managed to gather 500 people in an arena, but they can’t listen to me speaking because the authorities won’t let me use the mic unless I pay them. That was about how I’m getting hurt by Facebook in one of the many ways. But, I’m not alone, you are affected too.
Now, let us look at how it sucks for the audience…how it sucks for you.
Everybody loses and the community goes down
1. Individuals aren’t given a mic too: But they don’t know that because individuals aren’t given insights on how many people saw their posts. Assume you have something to share, say a Facebook status update, which you assume will be seen by everyone of your friend who is online.
No, it goes to a very small (say 3 – 4%) chunk of your friends. If someone from those friends to whom it was initially showed to, comments or likes it, it is shown to more people.
2. Making you dumber: Now in a very subtle way, Facebook is making you less smart. Facebook shows you only the things you usually engage with. All of the other things which you never like (have subscribed to) are not shown to you. This compounds with time and ultimately you start seeing your own mind there.
This makes you dumber. You, over time are repeatedly shown posts that confirm to your beliefs and pre-conceived notions. It is a pleasure to watch them. But since you are never challenged with your beliefs, you start living in a shell. All of those posts which challenge your notions never come across. Gradually, you start living in a shell of your own ideas and beliefs which are never challenged. You never get a wider perspective of things.
Agreed, cutting off our voices is what Facebook has to do, or else people’s feeds would get flooded with posts. But, why has the Twitter community never faced a problem like that? Facebook faces this because it chose to deal with the problem in an evil way.
Facebook shouldn’t have started doing it in the first place. Snubbing voices compounded the problem. The more posts from pages were snubbed, the more people started feeling that they weren’t receiving their dose of what they had subscribed to. Hence, they decided to subscribe to more pages and so on…Facebook’s solution (snubbing posts) of dealing with a problem (too many posts) makes the problem worse over time. It does nothing to solve it.
And of course it makes money for Facebook. Which unlike other social media (eg. Youtube revenue sharing) where money is put back into the system, Facebook decides to keep it for themselves and give it away to the shareholders who do not produce the content which makes the website worth visiting.
Facebook is greedy. I think it is going down soon because of this. The worst part is that there is no good way out. People have liked 1000 pages and no one is going to unlike them. Voices will have to be snubbed to avoid flooding of news feeds.
That isn’t just what I think. The host of one of my favorite YouTube show thinks the same…Like he puts it:
For every user, Facebook gradually turns into an echo chamber of self-affirming views.
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