Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost

Nick Bilton (NYT) finally realises that Facebook’s Edgerank feed sorting algorithm can be a double-edged sword. As more and more people have huge influxes of content to sift through (think of all the auto-posting apps/games that pump rivers of content into your ‘friend’s’ feeds), they rely more and more on Edgerank to tell them what’s important. There is a finite amount of attention and action which people can spare at any time.

The Newsfeed’s improvements rolling out today to allow some basic filtering go some way to addressing this, but where the system fails is that Edgerank is not transparent – it’s entirely up to Facebook to decide what to promote on your feed and what to demote. You can be sure that posts backed by dollars or Zuckerberg’s whims will get kicked further up. The solution, too late for Facebook, is to limit the amount of auto-feeding content that goes in. It’s a mess, even Spotify can take over your notifications drawer. Alternatively, you can open your wallet and pay Facebook a few bucks each time to promote your posts.

I don’t believe that Facebook is intentionally suppressing non-paid posts, but it doesn’t have to. Posts will naturally get buried under a mountain of irrelevant content by themselves, and they just have to wait till frustration and doubt fester, whilst presenting a paid alternative. You can be sure companies, if not individuals, will be lining up to buy their way up your feed.

“What changed? I recently tried a little experiment. I paid Facebook $7 to promote my column to my friends using the company’s sponsored advertising tool. To my surprise, I saw a 1,000 percent increase in the interaction on a link I posted, which had 130 likes and 30 reshares in just a few hours. It seems as if Facebook is not only promoting my links on news feeds when I pay for them, but also possibly suppressing the ones I do not pay for. Facebook proudly informed me in a message that 5.2 times as many people had seen my post because I had paid the company to show it to them. Gee whiz. Thanks, Facebook.”

Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost


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