In an era where click-bait articles are spread around based completely on headlines, when Buzzfeed is considered to be legit social criticism by people with a straight face, and where billions of depressed, mindless automatons ignore reality by watching videos of dogs falling off of chairs and couches, social media dominates. It’s an escape, a falsity to avoid real friendship and the work it entails, and further, a way to justify why we all exist. We thrive on likes and the banality of “the share” where we get strange sensations of jubilation somewhere down below when we find our stupid memes, posts, and pictures spread around like so many narcotics. Ah, Confessions of an English Opium Eater? No, friends, Confessions of a Social Media Eater. Let’s face it, as much as we’re autocrats around here, we all know that Facebook is the only social media site worth using to ignore our lives. Not because we like it, but because it’s the most heavily utilized, with the most features, the most connections, the most ways of losing ourselves and forgetting our lives are actually endlessly on the train to the station known as Death. Discuss.
So as much as we try, it’s impossible to stay away from it. The desire for likes turns us into depraved, sexually exhausted farces of living beings. But as much as we might not like certain aspects of it, Facebook is the best social media platform and still the number one site dedicated to social media in the world. With an average of 900 million users, it’s three times the level of popularity of Twitter. And try as you might, sites like Ello are worthless, barely an atom in a drop of water in the ocean of the universe, and badly designed. So don’t even bother, because the only people who do are socially awkward and wear beards they shouldn’t even be growing, let alone posting about their lives for all to see (just the good parts, though). Facebook is the only site you need to be on, period. But it has its share of problems. Recently some of their practices involving non-personal and personal pages have been causing a firestorm of disgust that’s been successfully ignored by the Baal of Facebook as it tries to justify its decisions by outright lying at times. So, we figured we’d do a bit of a call-out on our small site here (with suggestions for improvement at the end), in hopes that, maybe, some of the evils-that-be will wake up and make it a more enjoyable experience for all, especially for underground bands, artists, labels, musicians, and sites like us that enjoy engaging users but because of recent decisions are having a Goddamn tough time doing it for reasons that shouldn’t even exist. We even tried to promote an article (not ours) about Facebook causing a like reduction to get the word out, but Facebook didn’t like that because it is all powerful and all good.
In fact, in first publishing this article and trying to promote it (the ultimate in irony considering what this is about), Facebook actually shut off the ad and this is the message that could be found in our admin panel (placed into a workable space since the original image was too wide). Keep this in mind as you read along. It’s so Orwellian it makes us feel cliché.
Facebook as Business
So let’s get to it (read all of this before commenting). Of course, anyone using Facebook, or even those cultist freaks who keep trying to claim Ello isn’t actually Seeya, knows the company became a publicly traded entity a few years ago. This came with a number of repercussions including idiots who thought that by posting “don’t you dare Facebook” comments they were somehow they exempt from privacy problems that didn’t even exist in the first place. But the bigger issue is that, in becoming a business instead of simply a social platform, Facebook started to make decisions so its stockholders would have something to babble about, and that brings us to current problems that recently became even more irritating in the past month. So, forget not, Facebook is about money, it’s a business, and as a business it’s concerned with its revenue, but, in our opinion, there are better ways to go about it. And plenty of people are complaining, you’ll see their comments throughout this very article. Most of it is attached to two key issues: post promotion and like deletion.
One of the biggest changes was the concept of post promotion. Quite simple, and most people know what it means, but in case you don’t or do we’re going to say it anyway. Not surprisingly, post promotion began in the same year that Facebook went public as a traded entity. But what is this thing post promotion, or “boosting”? Well, firstly, in Facebook’s defense, being the largest social media site on the Internet, content ballooned significantly in the past decade, so much that it was literally a mess when the new Timeline format that started in 2011, depending on how many people you were friends with or how many pages you liked. They focused on the latter primarily, simply because of business decisions already made.
So the idea was simple, restrict content shown by pages that aren’t personal, anything from a Fortune 500 company to someone’s fan page about their Goddamn pet, and allow them to promote selected posts, of their choosing, by paying money for it. In theory it makes sense, at least to Facebook, because users were simply seeing too much, and by creating boosting this would 1) increase their revenue, 2) streamline what users see in their feed, and 3) provide a more useful form of advertising since Facebook ads are largely ignored and basically suck. The last point was recognized in the same year they went public by GM.
So post promotion is kind of ingenious, in a way, because it can create a better experience in how it’s designed, as well as providing more visible and useful forms of ads (because that’s kind of what they are) to pages that want more users to experience their content, purchase their products, and so forth. Of course, nothing beats a good old laugh from some of the comments you’ll see for promoted posts for various games and companies when they’re terrible, but regardless the idea does make sense in terms of its basic concept. But Facebook screwed it, while dead, somehow got it pregnant, and then aborted the child. Let’s find out how. Flame comments commence in 3, 2, 1…
The Issues of Post Promotion
But there are problems, if the picture above didn’t give you an idea already. When a user promotes a post for any page, they have one of three options. 1) They can promote the particular post (whatever it is) for only users of the page, 2) promote the post for users of the page and their friends, or 3) run it more like an ad and promote to people within a specified demographic with certain interests in order to get new fans. You can pay any form of money you want as low as $5 and going up to much larger increments like $500 or more. Facebook admitted publicly in 2014 that this would severely affect reach for pages, but they wrote it off a number of times saying, quote, it’s a way to “make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” What the hell does that mean? Other than a glut of things in our feeds it was working fine before so umm… Money, that’s what, that should be obvious. What’s more obvious are the issues with boosting.
Reach Restriction – First thing, Facebook is running an algorithm, which was explained in more detail last year, in an effort to reduce page reach. The problem is that it’s applied across the board as a program based on certain parameters. Generally, once a page reaches 1000+ likes, it gets hit with a huge percentage drop in reach. Were you getting around 20 notifications for each post before? Yeah, make that more like 1-2 now.
Algorithm Means Money – So, this reach affect is to instigate non-personal pages into paying for visibility, regardless of how big they are, 1,200 fans, 120,000 fans, doesn’t matter, your reach is their toy to control and with which they shall do illicit, unspeakable acts. Why? They want you to pay for it.
Boost Options Suck – Out of the three options mentioned earlier, only the second one makes any sense. If you have a small number of fans, option one is pointless because you can simply spam content throughout the day to cover that. Option two is ideal because you reach them and their friends, which has the potential to get more users and fans because people not already fans of the page will see it who you can assume have similar likes. The third option has potential, but not in its current inception because the demographic data is too limited and does not present enough workability, and it completely ignores fans who already like the page, unlike the first two options.
Boosting is Restricted – Even if you’re paying, Facebook restricts what you can pay for. Instead of leaving it up to the user to decide on the other end, certain things are not permitted (see the second image near the beginning). Kind of understandable, but then again not. If a user likes a page, they likely agree with its content and views, so they can see whatever they want. If they’re not involved in the page yet, well then they can simply ignore it or block the page. One of the more unusual restrictions, though, is that for post promotion, if it includes an image the text within the image can’t take up more than 20% of the space of the image. Huh? Why? If we’re the one paying for it, why do you Goddamn care how much text is in it? Maybe it’s a piece of art that’s all text, what then?
Facebook Can Cancel Your Boost – Facebook can also stop your boosting, at any time. Luckily, it comes with not charging you anything, so if you have a controversial boost the likes, views, shares, and comments you get out of it will not be charged, giving bigger pages something of a loophole to use if they’re feeling dirty.
The Deletion of Likes
Oh, hahaah, but Facebook wasn’t done there, oh no, no sir or madam. After post promotion worked, but sort of didn’t because of reasons mentioned above, Facebook then moved to delete likes, for reasons that were actually outright lies, seriously. Just this March of 2015 they announced publicly it was going to happen, but the reasons they gave were actually bullshit. Assuming you won’t click that link, it’s quite simple. Facebook stated that, in order to “insure that data on Facebook is consistent and up to date” and to “make audience data even more meaningful to business,” they were going to begin deleting certain accounts. What types? According to Facebook, that would be (read the article in that link if ye not believe) “fake accounts” and memorial accounts (obviously those of people who are now dead but their pages remain for friends and family to peruse).
To memorial accounts we say, why even? It’s not like Facebook has been around for 1,000 years, so once that happens and you have tons of memorial accounts, yeah, maybe do something about that. But even disregarding that, who cares who in the hell who likes the Goddamn page? In fact, if you consider post promotion, it’s more beneficial to pages for them to have whatever likes are there, because their boosting will have a greater effect. Get it? Facebook did, why do you think they made that decision?
Now with fake accounts it’s somewhat understandable, since people have being buying likes for their pages for some time now, and there are plenty of articles out there as to why it’s a bad idea, which discuss the algorithm mentioned above as well as a loss of credibility. In an attempt to avoid post boosting, people have also purchased like clicks, shares, and comments, which affects the algorithm so your posts get more organic reach. That was in response to post promotion already discussed above, and to combat that and keep their revenue stable, Facebook is now deleting such accounts to reduce such things. So it’s basically them circumventing cheaper ways to increase reach so you rely more on them. However…
The problem is REAL likes have also been deleted in this quest for control. Case in point, my wife was strangely deleted from three different pages, including Deaf Sparrow, in spite of the fact that she’s one, my wife and really exists, and two, actually likes the page and content. Greater questions arose when, in promoting a picture of our house rabbit on her page when she reached 2000 likes, suddenly she dropped about 150 in about two hours. Hmm, now why is that? According to Facebook, those were fake likes and memorial accounts, but that doesn’t make much sense for two reasons. One, I promoted a few of her posts before just so more people could see it and no such like reduction occurred until after these stated changes in March of 2015. Further, more profound, I found out real people who liked the page were some of the ones deleted. So what’s the deal? Notice the drastic drop in the picture below before we continue.
From Reach Restriction to User Interaction Reduction
Simple, fake accounts, memorial accounts, sure, certainly some of those were deleted, and we kind of understand. Remember the days on Myspace when there were glittery GIFs and spam all over the place? Sure don’t want to see something like that again, though it can be fun… But anyway, how were real people deleted? Is Facebook not telling us something outright? Yes. Simple, they’re running another algorithm that essentially calculates how much time you spend on a page. It’s the same one they use, essentially, to determine which of your friends you see. Many users who have promoted posts have seen drastic reductions in likes (sometimes mind-boggling reductions). Why? Simple, the more a user frequents a page and interacts with it, they’re determined to be “real”. The less they do, well, they mustn’t be, so they’re deleted. Ummm….
This is thus the issue that’s just popped up in this past month, March of 2015 to be specific. Facebook is trying to make money, done. Post Promotion, first step, kind of an okay idea, we’ll roll with it. Like reduction, come on now. First off, it’s bullshit, they’re basing it primarily on usage of the page, not the actual status of the accounts listed as likes. Problem with this is if you promote a post and a person who hasn’t been active on the page in awhile is targeted by that boosted post, guess what, kiss them goodbye. This is a serious issue and quite frankly a laughable algorithm. For smaller pages it can be a disaster when they’re trying to be good little boys and girls, promoting occasionally to increase their reach, only to find a sudden and strange decrease that’s never accounted for by Facebook itself. So in forcing pages to boost, they’ve also caused a collapse in the same system by reducing likes in the process of boosting. Ugh, our heads hurt. So what can be done?
Suggestions for Improvement
Facebook’s a business now, deal with it. And it’s the best social media site out there, deal with it. We don’t mind post promotion, this very page has done it a few times with great success, but we feel, or rather know that Facebook can do a hell of a lot better and, in fact, probably increase their revenue even more if they’re more fair in how they go about it. Let’s conclude with a list of corrections they can make to better increase the experience for all users, not just pages, as well as fill their own pocketbooks by not being assholes or giving bullshit response like this robotic slave puppet did right here (who by the way is probably a fake account anyway). Can’t they just say something honest for once and not be plebes about it? After you enjoy a laugh, read through our suggestions.
Staggering Reach Restriction Percentages– Why in the living hell is Facebook applying the same algorithm to pages with 1,000 fans or 10,000 fans? Huh? What would make more sense is this, staggering reach percentages. So, assume when you hit 1,000 fans you have a reach reduction of, let’s say, 5%. Each 1,000 after, that reach reduction increases by 5-10%, capping at, let’s say, 70-80% when you’re in the upper numbers. Since you’ll have more activity then anyway, it’s more fair for smaller pages trying to get more response in the first place. Organic reach will be then more feasible and people will be more driven to promote and pay Facebook for boosting.
Don’t Punish Smaller Pages – This goes along with point one right above, but consider this. Why should a fan page for someone’s stinking pet rabbit have the same reach effect as a page run by a mega corporation? Does that make sense? The problem is any non-personal page is defined this way across the board. Idea, make it possible for pages to function on a fan level instead of a business level, so people who are on Facebook to have fun and show pictures of their pets, children, or talk about a band, or whatever, can enjoy themselves instead of wondering if they should pay $5 for 1,000 people show a picture of a dog sitting in flowers. Make sense, Facebook? Take notes.
Rework Boosting Rules – Okay, we get it, you don’t want anyone offended. But that’s not your problem, Facebook, that’s the problem of the page and owner in question, so forget it. First off, if someone wants to pay to promote some sort of pornographic art for their pornographic page, chances are it’s a page frequented by people who like that sort of thing, and if it isn’t, get better privacy regulations in place or, you know, make the user liable like it should be? If someone doesn’t like what they see, hey, it’s on them, they can unlike the page or report the post like everyone else if it’s illegal or something. Second, remove this stupid text percentage restriction. Why is that even there? Again, to reiterate, if someone is paying like you enjoy them doing, who in the hell cares how many letters are in their promoted post picture? Screw that, let it go, doesn’t make any sense at all in the first place.
Stop Deleting Likes of Real Users – Don’t lie, seriously, it’s irritating. While we can understand deleting memorial accounts as likes, how can you actually determine what a fake account is? We’ve already proven you’ve deleted real accounts, even though you won’t admit it. Further, for fake accounts, who cares if they’re there? If you figure out a way to tell with 100% an account is fake, go for it, otherwise cut it out. We know you’re restricting what users see in the first place, so absolutely do not determine a like is fake based on a user’s activity level. Maybe they haven’t signed on for a few months or maybe they had a stalking problem and like to read content on a page but not do anything else because they’re afraid of creeper PMs, who knows? Stop it. If a page is paying for boosting and their users are real, let it be regardless of how much said users like, click, share, or comment on something. Your bottom line will still be there, trust us.