May 31, 2012

The Problem with FaceBook

As an experiment, I set up a Blood Sugar 101 FaceBook page last year to see if I could spread more awareness of blood-sugar related issues.

The page attracted a lot of interest and currently has over 1,100 "likes." But FaceBook had to do something to justify the billions it winkled out of investors, and what it has done is pernicious.  After urging content providers to generate likes--even suggesting that we advertise with FaceBook to raise the number of people who like our page (I didn't), FaceBook has now stopped showing page updates to most people who have liked our pages.

I had noticed this when I reviewed the feeble stats that FaceBook provides for pages. Then I read online that only 20% of people who had liked a page were seeing the updates. A poll I posted as an update on the Blood Sugar 101 FaceBook page a few weeks ago confirmed this. Only 20% of the people who had liked the post responded to a question about whether they could see the feed.

Now when I post on the Blood Sugar 101 FaceBook page, FaceBook is hitting me with something new--a chance to PAY for the ability to have my status updates seen by the people who have already liked the page. (Details here.) For a mere $5-10 bucks per update I can ensure that people who subscribed to my page under the impression that it meant they would see the updates can see those updates.

If this had been explained explicitly when I created the page, that would be one thing. But this was not at all the way that FaceBook worked a year ago when I started the page. For example,  FaceBook has also disabled the ability of page owners to contact those who have liked their pages--a feature that was  intact when I created my page and was part of what attracted me to doing it.

I don't spam people, but now and then it would be nice to be able to send out messages about particularly important events. Not so coincidentally, FaceBook took away my ability to contact page likers just at the time they started charging for the ability to have those same subscribers see feeds.

This is making me seriously reconsider whether I should post on FaceBook at all. FaceBook is using the fact that people like my page to gather information they sell to marketers who then target those people. Since my page discusses diabetes and diet, people who like the page will get shown ads for the kind of crap exploiters love to push on people with diabetes.

Since Blogger has never played these kinds of games with me I'm liking the blog more and more and am thinking I'll move my posting activity back to the blog. But because many of the people who do still see my feeds have asked me to keep the FaceBook page going, for now I am going to keep the Blood Sugar 101 FaceBook page alive.

However, if you are on FaceBook and interested in seeing the feeds there, don't assume FaceBook will show them to you. To see the updates, you'll have to bookmark the page and remember to visit it from time to time to see the updates.

If you are active on FaceBook, it would be a good idea to also warn your friends that FaceBook is probably not showing them the feeds from pages they want to follow and that they are charging page creators for the "privilege" of having their feeds seen. Though you may find that many of those who have liked your page are no longer seeing your feeds either.


18 comments:

Anna said...

I'm probably in the minority, but I detest FB and wouldn't mind if you moved away from that platform altogether. The invasion of privacy that they practise is astounding.

dallyup52 said...

I am one who likes FaceBook and it is part of my day. I have always been confused as to whose posts I see and who sees mine. Not sure that FB really understand it either.

Northerner said...

I do not like FB at all, but am registered on it in order to keep in touch with my friends who are. What you say here doesn't surprise me at all - FB are constantly changing things without asking and I frequently have to change security/privacy settings which are changed 'for me' by FB. Have you considered Google+ ?

Deena said...

Today's (May 31) Charlotte Observer has a front-page article about a man who blogs about controlling diabetes by eating a low-carbohydrate meat-and-vegetables diet who was contacted by the N.C. Board of Dietetics/Nutrition about possible violations of state law for dispensing diet advice without a license! Can you believe it?! He decided to file suit in US District Court in Charlotte. It will be interesting to see what happens. Surely he is protected by the First Amendment.

Jenny said...

I considered Google + but it doesn't seem to have that much market penetration and honestly, the last thing I need is any more time-wasting online networks!

Jenny said...

Deena,

The North Carolina story is more complicated than that. The person involved got busted because they were offering paid nutritional counsel. It's the paid part that got him in trouble, since it wasn't legal to sell services as a nutritionist without being certified.

frankweir said...

lets just hope fb doesnt buy blogger and kill it if page creators start to migrate there. that seems to happen often in internet commerce.

Anne said...

I was wondering why I was not seeing update from my favorite pages. I have to search to see if updates have been posted. I too have considered Google+ but there is no time to add that. Seems that most of the conversations are on FB.

The case against the NC Board of Dietetics is complicated. The Board went after him not only for the paid advice but for the free advice too. You can read about this http://ij.org/north-carolina-speech-backgrounder

Franziska said...

Thanks for letting us know about this, Jenny. I didn't realize that the people who "like" our pages don't always get the updates. I'm annoyed with FB on so many levels and have considered leaving too.

The Wild Haggis said...

I follow you on FB and Twitter, but to be honest with you, it's the RSS feeds watch like a hawk.

Anne said...

FaceCrooks give some hints to get updates from the pages and friends you like.
http://facecrooks.com/Scam-Watch/is-facebook-now-charging-page-owners-to-interact-with-their-fans.html

RLL said...

Facebook I think will not prevail with their current policies. They are simply being arrogant and dishonest - I imagine they will negotiate with their 'community', are find themselves in the failed pixel bin of .com history.

Unknown said...

that is truly vile. thanks for letting us know. I have avoided facebook from the start, because it just seems to represent the worst of modern society and the internet. what a shame! keep on with the blog please!

NIP said...

I get your facebook updates in my RSS reader, so i'm pretty sure i see them all. An RSS feed for your website would be helpful also.

Jenny said...

NIP,

There is a RSS feed available for the blog that reports all changes made to the main Blood Sugar 101 web page. You'll find it here: http://phlauntdiabetesupdates.blogspot.com/

Craig in CT said...

I have tended to avoid Facebook out of concerns over privacy. But I finally set up an account (fake name and email) just for the purpose of being able to check out the Face Book pages of organizations and businesses that looked interesting.

I was appalled at how intrusive FB behaves - always offering up possible contacts for 'friending', requesting permission to troll my email list for possible contacts, giving updates on things for which I have no interest. For example, I friended a nephew, and now I am being inundated by query's as to whether or not I know this 12 year old who happens to know my nephew.

My mother in law tried it for purposes of keeping up with family, and had the same reaction. She is always being inundated with crap that is of no interest, and has no idea how to control this or weed out the uninteresting crap.

Looks like a horribly confusing mess to me.

thereal said...

facebook is such a jerk sometimes...

drjbo said...

Wow! I'm on Facebook a LOT! I was wondering why I didn't get any updates from your page or even notices when you responded to my post. I only got a notice when someone ELSE responded to that post. Geez! Mr. Zuckerberg isn't making enough money???

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