Friday, February 25, 2011

Facebook: The Relevance of Chronology



A few weeks ago Facebook changed a setting on like pages. Something that they do very often. Usually these changes are met with criticism at first; but eventually people learn to adapt to them. Once in while something comes along however that people refuse to adapt to, something that causes more problems than solutions. Facebook in its history has been able to maintain its steady growth as a site by swallowing its pride and changing these maligned "improvements" back or coming up with another change. Yet this time is different. For this time the setting in question has not been changed, even though criticism is mounting every day.

Simply put, companies and organizations can have "accounts" just like people. And these accounts are called pages. They have walls, albums, and the ability to interact just like individuals do. Many times these pages become coordination centers for both non-profits and small businesses. However they have an even greater power than that. By "liking" these pages people "subscribe" to them and allow the pages' posts to show up in their newsfeed along with the posts of their individual friends. In the past few years big companies like Coke and musicians like Lady Gaga have figured out that these pages can be a profitable marketing tool, and Facebook has cashed in on this trend immensely by selling advertisement blocks to these companies where they can prompt people to "like" and subscribe to their pages.

Facebook, individuals, and big and small businesses alike have been in harmony with this type of interaction for its brief history. But recently Facebook changed the settings on these pages' walls. Now the order that one sees posts are not in chronological order of when they are posted, but is determined by a "relevancy algorithm". Even though many people have found this new setting annoying and continue to protest it, Facebook continues to stand by its decision, citing that big companies have not been objectionable to it. And this is why.

Here is the deal. This is how Facebook makes money now. Big companies pay to advertise their pages to get tons of likes and weasel their way into people's newsfeeds. I don't think Lady Gaga or Coke care whether or not their "announcements" are in chronological order on their pages, because who goes to the Coke page to read announcements? The real money is made in the appearance of these promotions in the newsfeed.

In addition to this big companies don't care about what people post on their pages. And because there are thousands of posts each day on large pages' walls, relevancy of the posts does carry more weight than their chronology. And furthermore if someone were to find their way to a big company's wall, it would benefit the company if posts that are more likely to make them money were at the top.

Facebook based this move on feedback from the only companies that it cares about. And those companies are the ones that pay Facebook millions to advertise their pages. But Facebook has forgotten that the only reason these ads are successful is because the site is used primarily for communication and the spread of local information.

Small businesses rely on chronological communication far more than big businesses and thus are being hurt much more because of this move. Even though in the short run Facebook will make money from appeasing big business, ultimately the erosion of small organizations will bring its profits down.

We MUST make Facebook understand that the reason why they are so popular is not because of big business, but because of the tools it gives to allow small groups of people to interact with each-other. If these tools are compromised, the whole site will be compromised, and will rot from the ground up.

If you agree that Facebook needs to be cognizant of the majority of its members' needs, and want to join the movement to advocate at least the OPTION for organizations to control in what order posts on their pages are viewed, please like the Bring Back Chronological Posts page on Facebook and spread the word about this issue amongst your circle of influence.

The day that the "Social Network" successfully oppresses social change, is the day that we will lose our freedom on the internet. Thousands have spoken. The only thing standing in the way of a free and prosperous future is YOUR silence as we lose our ability to make free choices and begin to be controlled by the elite.

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UPDATE: After several weeks of hard work, the supporters of this movement have finally prevailed. Soon after our Facebook page reached 11,000 fans, Facebook added the option to view wall posts in chronological order. I would like to thank everyone who liked the page, changed their profile pictures in protest, and sent messages to Facebook. This proves that a few people with passion for improvement can change the world, as a handful of fan page admins successfully stood up to the largest website on the internet.

4 comments:

  1. This is the most cogent post as I've read on this topic to date. Thank you!

    Marty

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  2. Can I "like" the post from Marty? :)

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  3. Great explanation as to the WHY they did it. Here's a way to get back; Close every ad on every page you visit on FB. It'll ask why, click 'other' and you'll get a text box. Besides wanting Chronological posts back I've taken to telling them how bad the new picture viewer is. And as soon as they are up and running, I'm joining https://joindiaspora.com/

    The interactions on my business page went from about 120-140 per day to less than 30 with these changes, all because people aren't seeing my posts.

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  4. Yes, big business pays for ads on FB, and they are constructing their format for business applications. But they are leaving out the social aspects of people with disabilities;who regularly go to the site of their disease, for help and support from others who are dealing with the same problems! I have MS, as do over 1 million people in this world! With ages ranging from 13 (or younger) to 70. The ones who have computers and somewhat of a knowledge of how to navigate Facebook, get used to being able to go the site that they know. And know how to post on it and get responses in a timely fashion that is understandable. Rather than having to scroll, and scroll and scroll...etc. Someone with a disability, may be asking a question that needs a quick response! Do they get it with the way Facebook is now? NO

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