Thursday, December 13, 2018

I'm beginning to think Facebook might be evil, y'all

If you're reading this, you probably didn't get here from Facebook.

About a month ago the increasingly sinister social network "adjusted" its analytics for the umpteenth time, contiuing to alter who sees what on Facebook using an opaque, draconian system of values that it refuses to disclose. This happens often, suggesting a great many things ... none of them especially good. In the past these changes were often followed by pleas from content creators asking you to adjust your own behavior to overcome these new obstacles put between us by Facebook. "Don't forget to 'follow' our page!" "If you like our page, don't forget to leave a comment!"

I see fewer of these requests than in the past, mostly because content creators have given up. Facebook makes its money by selling advertising, but the value of that product changes from week to week. Facebook will ask you to pay to promote your page to gain more followers, and then ask you to pay to "help" reach those new followers. And then it randomly (?) adjusts its analytics so that fewer of those new followers see your content. Wash, rinse, repeat.

And the system is only getting more obtuse. Facebook doesn't like its users to leave Facebook, so links to other pages receive less visibility. (They do such a good job at this that we frequently find people who think The Collinsport Historical Society is a just Facebook group.) If you use an image or photo with "too much text" (however that is being defined this week) those images can also be flagged as possible advertising and be hidden from timelines. Frequency is even a problem: Post too often during a single day and the bartenders at Facebook will cut you off.

About a month ago Facebook adjusted its analytics and the traffic to this website dropped precipitously overnight. I've never seen such a sudden change in traffic here. You can review some of these changes yourself on The Collinsport Historical Society's Facebook page by looking at the number of engagements on post take a steep dive ... we are reaching fewer people on Facebook  despite having the largest audience we've ever had. It doesn't make much sense to invest sweat equity into a platform that is so invested in self destructing. It feels a little too much like lending money to a junkie.

If you like what we do, I'm not going to ask that you dive into your Facebook settings and make a bunch of changes that benefit us. But you might consider skipping Facebook entirely and visiting this website directly.

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