How Facebook’s Keeping You From What You Like

The tl;dr of the video and post below is simple. If you want to support and see all the content from your favorite websites and blogs (and I’m hoping that includes Camels With Hammers), you have to use an RSS or make stopping by directly part of your daily routine rather than passively wait for sites like Facebook to show you when there are updates. And if you are going to depend on Facebook, you need to click like constantly on the content from pages and people you want to see more of.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that if you go to the pages you want updates from there is a way to select to get notifications. I am told if you do this, you will get the same sorts of regular and automatic notifications as though you had subscribed to a thread. So please do that for your favorite Facebook pages if you want to still be updated through Facebook. But still that won’t always work when there are many updates to keep up with so remember still to actively visit sites.

This is an excellent video explaining how and why Facebook is now making it so that you won’t see in your feed the content from a lot of pages you liked.

This frustrates me a great deal as I have no idea how many of the 1,456 people who liked the Camels With Hammers page or the thousands of people who have friended me personally because they want Camels With Hammers updates when looking at Facebook realize that the site is not regularly showing them when I update. The CWH page’s posts are seen by only about 60-70 out of the 1,456 people who liked the page. And this is the case no matter how popular the post.

What’s especially infuriating about this is that last year I spent a lot of the money I make from blogging investing in promoting posts and building the Camels With Hammers page and it simply doesn’t matter. There’s not even loyalty for someone who has spent significant advertising dollars to Facebook. The reward has been more of my potential readers have liked the page, become dependent on Facebook to remember to check the site, and now Facebook is demanding I shell out money for every post to get any of them seen. It’s just unfeasible. I can see them putting profitable businesses through that kind of charging scheme to reach people who don’t want to be disturbed by ads. But Facebook says it wants to rig its algorithms to promote substantive content. I provide substantive content. For free to my readers, for a pittance in pay from Patheos. I can’t afford to pay what it would cost to keep my readers seeing my content.

And, honestly, I’ve been so pissed off at Facebook doing this to us that I have decided not to promote any more posts until it restores more natural organic algorithms for posts that respect people’s actual “liking” activity. I am tempted to go so far as to delete the Camels With Hammers Facebook page altogether and I have not promoted at all the new Facebook pages I set up intending to promote my new Empowerment Ethics blog and my coming Hammering Out Ethics podcast. If Facebook is going to use these pages to take my readers hostage and keep them from me, then I’m not going to do business through Facebook anymore. It makes no sense for me to do so.

So all this means that if you continue to passively wait on Facebook to update you, then you’ll rarely know when there are new posts.

The site is basically becoming as bad as we all fear net neutrality will be. Instead of ISP’s charging websites to be able to service those who want their content, in this case it’s Facebook doing it. You tell Facebook with your likes what you want to see. But then Facebook won’t show it to you unless those content creators (or actual friends of yours!) pay them.

Taking Upworthy as an example of a site that Facebook can spike at will, Meagan McCardle explains the relevance of a maxim she learned in business school: “Never build your house on someone else’s land.”

Upworthy, on the other hand, pretty much has one asset: It is very good at getting content to go viral on social media (which mostly means getting it to go viral on Facebook). But Facebook can change the rules at any time to make Upworthy’s system stop working. That means two things: first, that you’ve got a business model that could go away at any minute; and second, that Facebook is probably going to make you pay to keep it around. People who run airport concessions can charge a lot of money for their product, because where else are you going to go? But they don’t get to keep that money; when profits go up, so does the rent. When your business strategy centers on someone else’s property, you are always vulnerable to having it taken away. At best, it’s likely that they, not you, are going to be making most of the money from that business model.

I love Facebook. My blog and I personally have benefitted immensely from its services in the past. But I am worried they are going to continue to block off traffic to the site more and more in the future.

So, again, if you enjoy this site and value what it provides, come here regularly and not just when Facebook reminds you to.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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