In the same fashion that George Takei and Mark Cuban went on incessant ego-fueled whining sprees about Facebook post visibility, the most recent spat of this ignorance-laden sense of entitlement comes by way of New York Times technology blogger Nick Bilton in his piece titled ‘When Sharing on Facebook Comes at a Cost‘:
I’ve stayed on Facebook after its repeated privacy violations partly because I foolishly believed there was some sort of democratic approach to sharing freely with others. I feel as if the company persuaded us to share under that premise and is now turning it inside out by requiring us to pay for people to see what we post.
Facebook takes a different view, saying that it is still finding the right balance for the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds.
As I’ve taken social media marketers to task several times before, the notion of having a so-called “right” to appear in Facebook news feeds is based upon a false assumption that everyone who subscribes to your updates (or “likes” your page) actually gives a fuck about everything you post. Get it through your goddamn egomaniacal heads already. They don’t.
Despite what these bellyachers claim, the Edgerank algorithm wasn’t designed to bilk a few bucks out of the pockets of brands, businesses and bloviators with large followings. In a similar way that Google displays search results, this mechanism is in place to ensure optimal relevancy and interest of news feed items for an end-user. You know, a normal fucking person. Someone who probably cares more about how their father’s surgery went, what a colleague thought of a new movie, or seeing their friend’s photos from the bridal shower that weekend than reading a half-witted column from a journalist who they’ve never met, spoken or interacted with whatsoever.
Why are they subscribed to your updates then, Nick? They probably liked something you wrote. Many probably read your column on occasion. Maybe some female readers of the Times thought you were cute and just enjoy glaring wistfully at your cover photo. Who knows? All I can most definitely say is that you’re not in any way at the center of their fucking world. Not even close.
While technology douchebags like Bilton (and myself) might operate efficiently in a world of information overload, an average person who doesn’t live and breathe every minutiae, tidbit of news or colloquial musing, frankly needs outside intervention from this deluge – or risks having their proverbial head explode and shutting it all off completely. This, and not a glut of advertising in the stream, is Facebook’s nightmare inflection point.
What makes it even more problematic for the company is that the issue is typically self-inflicted by users themselves (by friending and liking too many things) unbeknownst to the ramifications of that behavior. Is Facebook going to throttle people from doing so and set limitations for their own good? Yeah, let’s see how that flies. Hence their route of providing safeguards so that no matter what, the user experience every time will be as relevant to your interests as possible.
With any algorithm, it’s not perfect. Not by a long shot. Shit, even the eggheads at Google have continually tweaked theirs for over 15 years. Debunking those that believe Edgerank serves primarily as a tool to charge for feed visibility, how can these cyber-celebrities at the same time applaud the online advertising innovation of Google’s Adwords platform which charges for search page visibility in practically the same manner? Aren’t Facebook’s “promoted posts” an extension of that very successful and widely accepted concept? Sounds like hypocrisy to me.
But the issue being addressed in these tantrums have nothing to do with algorithms or business models. It all has to do with a lack of perspective. It all has to do with the unrealistic inflation of self-importance that social technologies appear to provide. And it’s the unwillingness to accept the deflated truth of your actual and limited place in other people’s minds that causes pieces such as Nick Bilton’s to be written. Keep grasping for a scapegoat, dude. It won’t change anything.