For the past several weeks, I had not been receiving posts from some of my favorite pages.
Someone suggested that I need to go back to these pages and click on “Add to Interest” tab under the “Like” tab to get these feeds. I found this a little irrelevant. Isn’t it is obvious that I want more information from these pages since I have chosen to like them?
Being the owner of some such pages, I wondered why some of my pages were getting more responses than the others. The responses are from the same set of people who have liked my page and I interact with regularly. The best posts were getting far less responses, when much more mediocre ones had a better hit rate in the past few months. Shouldn’t the page be reaching at least 30 percent of the total number of people on my list? After all, these were people who signed up for the information, instead of being spammed with irrelevant ads simply because they visited a site.
It turns out that Facebook’s new “Newsfeed” system shows you news based on “what would be most relevant to you”.
Facebook defence – it isn’t ‘hiding’ anyone’s news feeds, but their ‘algorithm’ picks certain news feed pieces that it thinks might be more relevant to you, based on various things like interest level among your friends etc.
This, as an individual and an artist, is disturbing. This means someone or an obscure algorithm decides what I get to see, and it decides it based on what my friends are reading / seeing. So if one of my friends thinks a crappy photographs or video is awesome and shares it, I would get it see that and miss out on a better piece that probably not as many people have seen it.
There are also allegations that Facebook is suppressing information (algorithms again?) to get more ad sales. Which means if you pay for a post to promote it, it obviously gets more visibility. And Facebook’s ad systems have changed as well. The same ad that I did about 6 months ago, with the same target group, now costs much more for the same duration. Why? They would probably give you generic answers that don’t really answer anything.
My Facebook time was because of the variety of articles and debates that we could indulge in over several issues. I got to read content that I would not have found otherwise. I discovered various photographers and projects because of sharing on Facebook. But when they begin to decide who I get to see and what I get to see, it isn’t just a infringement of privacy, it also violates my freedom.
Who is to say that they will completely shut out positive comments about Chavez? Or Julian Assange? Or something else… They are in the strongest position to shape perception and they are very aware of it.
The changes in the past few months about Facebook’s policy, and their control over my usage and personal information is making me wish for an alternative for Facebook. A site that respects people’s privacy a lot more than Facebook does. A site that doesn’t force me to reveal where I am, who I am with, where I studied, what language I speak, where I went to school, who I went to school with, where I have my dinner, what my relationship status is; and if I don’t want to reveal it, they get my unsuspecting friend to reveal it.
Perhaps it will soon be time to say adieu to Facebook. Why spend an entire day reading a company’s agenda instead of following my friends.