“People have suspected for a long time that social media is rotten with fraud and fakery. But it’s very hard to prove. And now … we’ve been able to show the entire economy at work.” — The New York Times’ Nick Confessore
Don’t be ignorant about social media tomfoolery or you will be at the mercy of their agenda. We have 4 things you can learn quickly to help you avoid the manipulation of the social media giants.
Two of the most popular social media sites for publishers and followers are Twitter and Facebook but changes in them and other social media sites are putting people at their mercy. As social media has changed, often for the worst, people have complained, but a better way to deal with it is to learn what they are up to and how circumvent it. There are a number of ways.
LOVE FOR SALE
Be informed and stay true to yourself.
The upside for the purchasers is obvious. People are more likely to click on accounts that have large numbers of followers. It makes them look so much more important.
Without much effort or expense, a person can look bigger-than-life in the Twitter world and create a dishonest, overblown image. It’s a practice used by mainstream media, pollsters, all manner of people who want to control public opinion.
These ‘fake follower’ companies often steal the identities and photos of real people who are left unaware.
Social media is not trustworthy and the situation is getting worse.
When I first went on to the Internet, it was simply a collection of static pages that said little and went nowhere. It quickly grew with more options and more devious people. When I joined social media, the journey was the same, going from a free and open adventure to a more tightly controlled one.
Facebook, like other platforms, censors for monetary gain and political expediency. Shadow banning, the practice of making some people invisible has been exposed on Twitter by independent journalist James O’Keefe although the CEO of the company denies it. They are all doing it but that doesn’t mean you can’t outsmart them.
YOUR LOVED ONES ARE GONE
There are a number of things going on that affect readership. Shadow banning is practiced at Facebook too as they sit in judgement and hide “fake news”. Another problem is people chase ‘likes’, which are meaningless as most people don’t even read the articles or news and just read the headlines. Then there is the practice of reducing organic reach which we see at Google, the world’s most powerful search engine, and at Facebook, and others.
All those pages and people you used to like never or rarely appear. They haven’t gone anywhere, they just don’t have much of a chance at appearing in your feed unless they are closely tied to you or have the money to get noticed.
To reach back into history, Facebook was once a fun place to connect to family, friends and publishers you liked. When I began this blog in 2011, I had more people looking at it at times than I do now. Since then, Facebook has continually added filters.
At first they did it to make money for their investors, but then they discovered they were under-the-gun for allowing too much free political speech. That in turn led to a shrill cry for censorship.
Summing up, once upon a time, you could see all your friends but then Facebook decided to throttle organic reach of updates to roughly a minuscule .4% or fewer people. They added an algorithm and eventually thousands of left-wing fact checkers with agendas to further stifle freedom of movement.
It’s not only the right-wing being snuffed out, it’s everyone. We are all at the mercy of the algorithm.
THE LOVELESS ALGORITHM
Facebook has been systematically cutting back Pages’ organic reach for years, most notably with brands and most recently with publishers , marketingland reports. Different reasons are offered. Call it good business practices, call it censorship or just call it being at the mercy of an algorithm, but do recognize you are being manipulated.
ZD Net posted the decline in reach for one year in 2013:
Marketingland posted this chart in August 2016, showing a 52% decline in one year.
FIND LOVE AGAIN
Don’t chase ‘followers’ or ‘likes’ unless they are real. Don’t expect free advertising and plan for censorship if you are on the perceived wrong side of things.
Facebook and other social media sites are renting their pages, you own nothing and they owe you nothing. You work for them for nothing. As a private company, they can do whatever they want.
What makes it unethical is their monopoly. They sold their product as a free and open market and now that people have bought into it. These platforms are censoring more and more according to their beliefs, or perhaps out of greed. They can manipulate millions of people with the power they now have.
There are ways around it of course. Keep up with the changes. For example, on Facebook, you can go to “news feed preferences” and choose what you want to appear in the feed. If you are marketing a page, invest in other blogs, build lists, run Facebook competitions, and definitely form a strategy.
Another possibility for writers and publishers is to try another social media platform. There are many of them, including Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Social media changes constantly, accept it and change with it.
Finally, become a better writer, be more interesting and valued, and make yourself worth the time.
Just don’t give up! This is your free speech we are talking about.