Being broken pays
September 30, 2012 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right - 'It doesn’t end with Facebook, either. Being broken pays off, so social media is often deliberately broken. In fact, nearly every major social network, site or app has greedily pursued this logic.'

How To Read A Blog: 'When you see a blog being with "According to a tipster... ," know that the tipster was someone like me tricking the blogger into writing what I wanted.'
posted by the man of twists and turns (92 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
We pay for social media with pieces of our lives—whether it’s because a blog baits us into reading something or a game tricks us into sticking around long after we should have left—and these bits of life are sold to advertisers, literally, for pennies.
...or as metafilter's own blue_beetle put it nearly two years ago... "If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold."

"social" media is dependent, ultimately, upon the users. and the users will always keep moving. people are fickle like that.
posted by raihan_ at 10:55 PM on September 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have this problem staying in contact with fans via Facebook. Everyone says you have to use Facebook because that's where everyone is, yet why use the fucking thing if you only contact 15% of your audience per post?

I miss when the Internet was pieces of HTML people were serving off their own computers, and everyone communicated via newsgroups and email. But that was of the people, and it was hard to monetize.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:00 PM on September 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


I miss being able to search for mallards and finding a website on geocities by a crazy person who had cataloged every type of duck he had seen at the park cross referenced with whatever bird watching books he had on hand. Everything was tables, black background, lime green text, and you could download his photos which were formatted in .pcx.

Now I never search for mallards.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:12 PM on September 30, 2012 [64 favorites]


One of these things does not go with the others. The reason he's saying that Facebook is broken is that it shows people less advertising than marketers want it to. I don't use Facebook for aforementioned "you are the product" reasons but that does not sound like a bad thing to me.
posted by XMLicious at 11:16 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reason he's saying that Facebook is broken is that it shows people less advertising than marketers want it to.

True, if it is only for businesses, but if a page by a local nonprofit organizing a beach clean-up only gets their post seen by 15% of their fans, then that kind of sucks.
posted by snofoam at 11:26 PM on September 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. .
How is that 'broken'? It seems to me that filtering out corporate span and showing people post from their actual friends would be a feature rather then a bug.

SEO spammers have a pretty whack idea of what websites 'should' do. They typically don't exist for you to irritate people with crap for free.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 PM on September 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Zuckerberged again!
posted by cman at 11:37 PM on September 30, 2012


*sheds a tear for the poor, poor marketers who fall for Facebook's bullshit*
posted by b1tr0t at 11:41 PM on September 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Social Media >>>>> Complainy Linkbait
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:45 PM on September 30, 2012


It's not all evil marketers getting screwed over here. It's community organizations, it's solo musicians writing weird electronic music like me, it's public figures, et cetera. FB built mass by these people being heard, and all of a sudden they introduced a filter that they had to pay to get past.

As a communications system, that's broken. Why have an email account with a provider if you can only send out emails to every fifth person you have as a contact?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


I know nothing about Facebook, but is this 15% thing true for ordinary people too? Like if you've got 100 friends, only 15 of them will get your latest message? Seems pretty dumb.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss when the Internet was pieces of HTML people were serving off their own computers, and everyone communicated via newsgroups and email. But that was of the people, and it was hard to monetize.

Well, technically it was of the university compsci grad students, and then the undergads elbowed in and lowered the property values, and then commercial users tromped all over things, and then the AOL people came, and then the bloggers went and emo'd everything up, and then the LiveJournal kids proved you didn't even need to know HTML to do it, and then...

Yeah.

I'm as annoyed as the next person at the "monetization train" that turns people into digital content sharecroppers, but the idea that the pre-commercial internet was "of the people" is a bit weird. It was "of the elite," in the societal sense, and its impact at that point was primarily setting the stage for future generations of users.
posted by verb at 11:50 PM on September 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


I know nothing about Facebook, but is this 15% thing true for ordinary people too? Like if you've got 100 friends, only 15 of them will get your latest message? Seems pretty dumb.

I suspect that it's really talking about engagement metrics and/or news churn. If you have 100 friends and you say something, maybe only 15 of them will like or comment on it, or spot it in the churn of news from all their other friends, or in some way interact with the post that you've written. It could be like saying that posting a comment on mefi only has a 10% "reach" because 90% of the users will scroll past your comment without favoriting, replying, or flagging.
posted by verb at 11:53 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not all evil marketers getting screwed over here. It's community organizations, it's solo musicians writing weird electronic music like me, it's public figures, et cetera.
Yes, but again, none of those are what people use facebook for. They use it for keeping track of the friends. Someone might "like" someone for whatever reason, that doesn't mean they actually want spam from them in their feed.

If any of those people tried to promote those people here on metafilter, they'd get banned.
Like if you've got 100 friends, only 15 of them will get your latest message? Seems pretty dumb.
Well, what they do is show you posts from people that you're most likely to like the posts of, comment on, etc. So there may be a 100% chance of your spouse and/or creepy ex seeing your post, and a 0% chance of some random person from highschool seeing it.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


(er, if any of those people tried to promote themselves here, they'd get banned. Other then from in projects/music/etc)

And really, there's no reason to think that spam from an indie musician or a community organization is any more interesting then spam from coke/nike/apple/exxon
posted by delmoi at 11:57 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ohhh... I see. So it's probably a deliberate step taken to reduce the noise people get from other accounts, and not something that's actually stopped working.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:58 PM on September 30, 2012


I use Facebook for (a) staying in touch with music contacts, and (b) staying in touch with musician's pages. It's useful for me to see what musicians have to say. We're not talking about 'liking' Walmart or something, we're talking about keeping tabs on collaborators, bands I blog about, et cetera. I need to know what they're doing, and it's good to know if an album is coming out, etc so I can scoop on a review, for example. Not all posts are spam.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:00 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


How is that 'broken'? It seems to me that filtering out corporate span and showing people post from their actual friends would be a feature rather then a bug.

If i've signed up as a fan of, say, Zufallsshirt, it's because I want to get messages from them.
posted by kenko at 12:00 AM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


What if you only have 14 friends? Does anyone read my status updates? :(
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:01 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So if advertisers (their customers) are only reaching 15% of their Facebook market, I guess the long term price for FB should be about 15% of the IPO? $6.75?
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:15 AM on October 1, 2012


No, advertisers reach 100%, because they're paying. If you have an unpaid page, you only reach 15%, even though people have clicked 'like' because they want to get updates from you.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:35 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Waitaminute ... the link "How to Read a Blog: An Update on Account of All the Lies " is about how web media trolls for traffic ... it's from The Huffington Post.

You got me there, Huffington Post. Good one. Normally I can tell when your faux-outrage headline indicates an article with high noise and low content, but this time I was fooled.
posted by cotterpin at 12:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold."

Yeah, but so what? I would rather let Google mine social graph in exchange for email that actually works and a very useful productivity suite, than pay $100 for a bloated software download from Microsoft that. Same goes for making Skype calls, etc. I have no idea what use Facebook gets out of my data. I have almost no personal info uploaded. I don't play games, I don't click on ads, I clean my cookies so it can't track me across the net. If the government wants to investigate me, they can do it without any help from Facebook.

It seems to be the real problem is "Internet literacy" - people need to be aware of the ramifications of sharing data, and then take personal responsibility for what they share.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 AM on October 1, 2012


When you see "Updated" on a story or article, know that no one actually bothered to rework the story in light of the new facts -- they just copied and pasted some shit at the bottom of the
article.

-- "How to Read a Blog: An Update on Account of All the Lies"
And it was right there in plain sight! How could I have been so gullible?
posted by cotterpin at 12:42 AM on October 1, 2012


I use Facebook for (a) staying in touch with music contacts, and (b) staying in touch with musician's pages. It's useful for me to see what musicians have to say.
Twitter is over there.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:18 AM on October 1, 2012


verb: "the idea that the pre-commercial internet was "of the people" is a bit weird. It was "of the elite," in the societal sense, and its impact at that point was primarily setting the stage for future generations of users."

I liked when the Internet was elite. I liked when it wasn't overrun by people who can't spell or capitalize and use 'idk lol' and 'just sayin' as punctuation. I liked when you had to jump over certain hurdles that required intelligence in order to get online.

Who it was by and for? People. Smart ones.

Today everything is commercial, and I think it greatly detracts from the Net's potential as a medium for the exchange of ideas. It's not about communication, it's about consuming content. People can read, but the commercial Net does nothing to promote reading comprehension or expressing one's ideas clearly.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


We're not talking about 'liking' Walmart or something

Couldn't we be, though? It's the same thing. I agree with everybody here who is saying this affects local organizations, bands, etc., but I don't especially like all this distinguishing between those and the massive corporations. If somebody wants to subscribe to Walmart's updates, then he should be able to view all of them.

Having said that, I wonder if the problem might be less sinister than the article proposes, and may just involve practicality. How much is too much, in feasibility terms? I don't see updates from all my Facebook friends, but if I did then I'm pretty sure my news feed would be too fast-moving and chock-full for me to keep up with as easily as I do now. Imagine if I were really seeing 100% of everything that was posted by any person or company I'm connected to.

Is it possible that one factor in the screening algorithms is how frequently a person logs into a site, or maybe just some objective standard of how much information total is too much?
posted by cribcage at 1:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


dunkadunc: I liked when the Internet was elite... I liked when you had to jump over certain hurdles that required intelligence in order to get online... Today everything is commercial, and I think it greatly detracts from the Net's potential as a medium for the exchange of ideas. It's not about communication, it's about consuming content. People can read, but the commercial Net does nothing to promote reading comprehension or expressing one's ideas clearly.

I don't think that's very reasonable. There are many more smart people online now than there were in (say) 1995, and it's not much harder to find them; just follow the trail of blogs about $THING_YOU_ENJOY until you find some good ones and start reading or talking. Complaining that average people can also use the Internet for things that don't involve gud speling is not particularly gracious.
posted by value of information at 1:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now I never search for mallards.

You made mallards cry.
posted by moneyjane at 2:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


but the idea that the pre-commercial internet was "of the people" is a bit weird. It was "of the elite," in the societal sense, and its impact at that point was primarily setting the stage for future generations of users.
but i thought "barriers to entry" created good posting. i may be confused
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:27 AM on October 1, 2012


Yes, but again, none of those are what people use facebook for.

Twitter is over there.

Yes, but some people don't agree. What about them? The "free market" answer is probably "they can go find another firm or start their own", but because of the way the internet works and because we're dealing with such enormous pieces of the communication systems for so many people, that answer starts to look a little bit insufficient.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:37 AM on October 1, 2012


People can read, but the commercial Net does nothing to promote reading comprehension or expressing one's ideas clearly.

The commercial Net does Metafilter. Just for one example.
posted by chavenet at 4:51 AM on October 1, 2012


When I saw the headline, I assumed that it was going to be about how shitty Facebook's software is, not that they don't pander to marketing enough.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like facebook could make this less controversial, and probably only marginally less profitable, by differentiating for-profits from other organizations, or smaller groups from larger ones.
posted by ropeladder at 4:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Facebook's too-clever-by-half algorithm (what's its name? ZuckRank or something, isn't it?) does seem to place people in self-reinforcing filter bubbles; the algorithm decides that you connect mostly with a sublist of your friends and only shows them your updates, so you only end up interacting with them, and without realising it, end up snubbing anyone you've friended who falls outside of the circle, eventually losing touch with them. And since a Facebook user has only a finite amount of attention, the size of this charmed circle is limited, and it can only decrease as shareholders start demanding more of that attention being given to paying advertisers.

Facebook's sitting pretty for now, as MySpace was some five years ago. Everyone's on Facebook, third party apps sync with it, and abandoning it effectively means dropping out of online society; in this age, deliberately writing emails to keep in touch with people would be a vaguely eccentric chore, like moving to a log cabin and hand-washing your clothes with a mangle. OK if you're Bon Iver or the Unabomber, but not for the average person.

This won't last, though. Facebook will, by necessity, have to push the envelope to see how much spam users can swallow; what's the minimum amount of meaningful, non-paying social contact you can sweeten the proposition of consuming ads with. So we'll see our social circles shrink further, our updates diluted with the pink slime of marketing. Eventually, people will start disengaging, and the ground will be ripe for something new, and then Facebook is done for, like MySpace was.

Though the dilemma remains of how to fund social networks. Perhaps the solution will be a federated system, consisting of siloes capable of interacting, with different propositions. If you have the money, you can pay $24.95 a year for ad-free social hosting; premium users can set up home in an upmarket silo, where $12/month buys you a ritzy address and actual humans spam-filtering your comments. If you're a teenager with limited pocket money, you can use one of the free, ad-funded services, where you can just about see your friends' updates in the middle of the buzzing, flashing “punch the monkey to win $$$” ads and/or occasionally have to watch a 15-second video clip and answer a question about it. The networks have different policies; some have strict Zuckerbergian wallet-name policies, others allow pseudonyms à la LiveJournal or MeFi; users can friend other users in different siloes, adding them to access lists.
posted by acb at 4:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Facebook has user settings, you know. If you Like something on Facebook and don't like how many posts you get, you can reduce or block them in your feed. There's no argument for Facebook filtering certain feeds on your behalf.
posted by Peevish at 5:30 AM on October 1, 2012


acb: You're read Wool? (Just... the silos thing.)
posted by which_chick at 5:49 AM on October 1, 2012


Is there a German word for "longing for the golden age of the Internet when it first started and everything was perfect, even though it never existed. And also the <blink> tag."?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Die PeopleDidn'tHarassYouToJoinSocialNetworksConstantly"
posted by thelonius at 6:02 AM on October 1, 2012


@blue_beetle: Ewigseptemberweinen
posted by GenericUser at 6:09 AM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


or weinend ehhhh
posted by GenericUser at 6:10 AM on October 1, 2012


dunkadunc: I miss when the Internet was pieces of HTML people were serving off their own computers, and everyone communicated via newsgroups and email. But that was of the people, and it was hard to monetize.


TwelveTwo: I miss being able to search for mallards and finding a website on geocities by a crazy person who had cataloged every type of duck he had seen at the park cross referenced with whatever bird watching books he had on hand. Everything was tables, black background, lime green text, and you could download his photos which were formatted in .pcx.

Echoing these sentiments, and dunkadunc's later, "elitist" ones (although the version of the internet I miss was probably transitional between what dunkadunc and TwelveTwo are describing and what exists now, since there have been world wide webz slightly longer than I've known how to read).

The part of the internet that ends in ".onion" looks a lot like the late-90s tubes, if I remember right, and one cool thing about it is the directories. Maybe this project or similar ones will recreate the internet for which this thread contains nostalgia.

Facebook's sitting pretty for now, as MySpace was some five years ago. Everyone's on Facebook, third party apps sync with it, and abandoning it effectively means dropping out of online society; in this age, deliberately writing emails to keep in touch with people would be a vaguely eccentric chore, like moving to a log cabin and hand-washing your clothes with a mangle. OK if you're Bon Iver or the Unabomber, but not for the average person.

Facefuck-eschewing citizen of the internet and deliberate sender of emails* here, in ur MetaFilter, resenting comparisons to the Unabomber.

*and, sometimes, washer-of-clothes-by-hand.
posted by kengraham at 6:12 AM on October 1, 2012


If i've signed up as a fan of, say, Zufallsshirt, it's because I want to get messages from them.

Yeah, but this isn't how everyone uses Facebook. If I "like" something, it actually doesn't mean that I want to get messages, generally. I tend to use it like a MeFi "favorite." Yeah, I do like that! You go, political campaign/TV show/band!

If I were then to get every furshlugginer update they posted, I'd be really annoyed.
posted by corb at 6:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Facebook is not the one-stop communication hub it imagines itself to be. It's users will naturally converge on specific patterns of behavior, something to do with birthdays and party invitations perhaps. I think new platforms will emerge to provide the kind of brand-to-consumer marketing service that Facebook is selling itself as. Because Facebook is lying through their teeth when they lure marketers with the promise of a large audience. They know damn well nobody visits Facebook to look at advertising. Facebook is already firmly settled in a different gravity well and I don't see them being able to crawl out of it.
posted by deo rei at 6:24 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked when the Internet was elite. I liked when it wasn't overrun by people who can't spell or capitalize and use 'idk lol' and 'just sayin' as punctuation.

Today is 6971 September 1993.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:26 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


> I liked when you had to jump over certain hurdles that required intelligence in order to get online...

Complaining that average people can also use the Internet for things that don't involve gud speling is not particularly gracious.

You guys both sound like Mitt Romney talking to big-money donors here, I have to say.
posted by rusty at 6:28 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone else noticed how broken Google searches are lately? Unless you're specifically looking for a product on Amazon or indeed want to see 25 search results in a row from monitizeme.com a lot of the Internet just went effectively dark.

Capitalism (eventually) ruins everything :(
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


which_chick:acb: You're read Wool? (Just... the silos thing.)

I haven't seen Wool; please tell me more.
I was thinking of something like Diaspora for the social authentication infrastructure.

Another thing I've seen is The Mine! Project, which was originated by a crypto guru and aims to be a personal social data silo. The problem with this is that I can't see people who aren't crypto/privacy geeks installing this and setting it up in the real world, so one would need some kind of system of hosted sites one can sign up for.
posted by acb at 6:43 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


There must be a way to do a search that excludes online sales results, but I don't know how. Suppose I want to research, oh, the history of those Vinyl Siding ads on TV. I do not want to buy, compare prices, etc on Vinyl Siding, I just want to know when the product was invented, who started selling it, how was it received, and so on. What do I type in? "vinyl siding" -crap?
posted by thelonius at 6:44 AM on October 1, 2012


thelonius: "vinyl siding history".
posted by rusty at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2012


I liked when the Internet was elite. I liked when it wasn't overrun by people who can't spell or capitalize and use 'idk lol' and 'just sayin' as punctuation.

One more thing ... I completely agree with the above. If the internet has taught me anything it is that far, far more people are effectively idiots than I had ever believed prior to becoming 'connected'. They won't pay for real content but they will pay with their own time for Facebook, Twitter or the New York Daily Post.

I suppose you can wall yourself away in online the equivalent of a gated community (cough...cough...) or you can figure out some way to uplift the 40, 50 , 70 percent (or however many) to a point where they can reasonably and sensibly participate in the conversation. Alternatively, you can just make a fortune off them by creating Facebook or YouTube.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Facebook's too-clever-by-half algorithm (what's its name? ZuckRank or something, isn't it?) does seem to place people in self-reinforcing filter bubbles;

ClusterZuck.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, it's the ambiguous meaning of "liking" something.

On Twitter, if you "follow" something, it's because you want to hear what they tweet. If you subscribe to an RSS feed, it's because you want to receive updates.

It seems to me that 15% should be variable, in that if you post something new twice a month, you should get through to everyone, if you post 10 times a day, maybe not. If I were getting 7 times as many posts about people playing cow-clicker and reading articles on Yahoo News, that would also in a sense be broken.

Thelonius: Obviously, it's just a matter of excluding the .com TLD. :)
posted by RobotHero at 6:49 AM on October 1, 2012


I liked when the Internet was elite. I liked when it wasn't overrun by people who can't spell or capitalize

If you avoid Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you will instantly cut out probably 90% of the Eternal September crowd. And Twitter is manageable if you are very careful about who you follow. Reddit isn't too bad either, within certain limited subsites.

I spend most of my time online using Metafilter, Hacker News, Reddit (with a very narrowly tailored selection of subsites), and a couple of specialized forums, and I think the discussion quality is at least as high as it was on Usenet in the "good old days." And in some ways it's probably better.

Mailing lists and Usenet itself are still going pretty strong, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:02 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and Google Plus. I've easily had more interesting discussions there in the short time that it's been operating, than I've ever had on Facebook since it opened to the public. Too bad they defaced their Android app so badly, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:06 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


verb: "I suspect that it's really talking about engagement metrics and/or news churn. If you have 100 friends and you say something, maybe only 15 of them will like or comment on it, or spot it in the churn of news from all their other friends, or in some way interact with the post that you've written. It could be like saying that posting a comment on mefi only has a 10% "reach" because 90% of the users will scroll past your comment without favoriting, replying, or flagging."

No. Facebook actively filters your newsfeed, and hides things that it doesn't think you'll find interesting.

Users that you don't frequently interact with, people who over-post (and get few likes), and big pages that make a *lot* of posts all get throttled down. Good for Facebook, and probably good for you too (although I don't like some of what they're doing with sponsored posts... more on that in a second...)

snofoam: "True, if it is only for businesses, but if a page by a local nonprofit organizing a beach clean-up only gets their post seen by 15% of their fans, then that kind of sucks."

I run a few pages. The reach is *considerably* higher for smaller pages. Probably close to 40% on average, and higher if your post gets a lot of likes and shares.

ropeladder: "It seems like facebook could make this less controversial, and probably only marginally less profitable, by differentiating for-profits from other organizations, or smaller groups from larger ones."

The pricing model is dynamic, and as I said, only the really big pages happen to get throttled all the way down to 15% or less.

I just checked the page I manage for a small local nonprofit, and it costs $5 for us to promote a post to all of our (~400) followers, and most of their friends for the next three days. That's stupidly cheap, even for us.

Also, if you have a message that you *absolutely need* to send to your fans, you should use a mailing list or some other distribution channel. Facebook has never been particularly good for that purpose.

Now, on the other hand, some of Facebook's targeted sponsorship things have been a bit offputting. I noticed that about a month ago, Mitt Romney's social media campaign began aggressively targeting people who follow/post liberal stuff on Facebook. It's really strange, and actually kind of intrusive. Searching for "Barack Obama" actually put "Mitt Romney" at the top of the results for a while earlier this month, and I get "Sponsored Posts" from Ryan and Romney, despite the fact that only a very small number of my friends follow those pages (compared to 100+ for Obama).

I generally don't mind targeted ads when they're done well, but Facebook seem to have really dropped the ball in this regard. Advertising on the web is only effective when used with a healthy amount of restraint. I think Facebook may have overstepped that boundary.
posted by schmod at 7:08 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, yes. I've recently noticed that there are some really high-quality feeds on Google Plus. I think I may need to start adding that to my daily reading list.

RobotHero: "It seems to me that 15% should be variable, in that if you post something new twice a month, you should get through to everyone, if you post 10 times a day, maybe not."

That's actually almost exactly how it works. I don't think that you can ever quite get to 100%, but infrequent posters with small numbers of followers do get very high percentages.
posted by schmod at 7:11 AM on October 1, 2012


I get "Sponsored Posts" from Ryan and Romney, despite the fact that only a very small number of my friends follow those pages

schmod, some of this may be due to the fact that there's a liberal campaign currently running to click on Ryan/Romney ads to cost them money. I know some of my friends are doing this.
posted by corb at 7:12 AM on October 1, 2012


Maybe this project or similar ones will recreate the internet for which this thread contains nostalgia.

it mentions oppressive governments- so how are laws enforced against this system? "no one" really wants the internet to go back to how it was, because e.g. piracy was such a major component of that.

to paraphrase a friend, the thing about everyone relying on third-party sites instead of hosting their own stuff is that you can rely on the site's policies and owners rather than taking it all the way to the legal system and navigating the vagaries of that. "thanks, capitalism", etc.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:18 AM on October 1, 2012


If you avoid Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you will instantly cut out probably 90% of the Eternal September crowd.

And most of the rest of society.

You'll end up in a ghetto. A very (technologically and/or culturally) literate ghetto, granted, but still a ghetto.
posted by acb at 7:21 AM on October 1, 2012


Yeah, but this isn't how everyone uses Facebook.

What's broken about FB is that they actively prevent you from using it for what I joined for. I connected with people on facebook because I wanted to to be -- how naive -- "connected" with them. So I DO want to see all their posts. But by default I don't. I see a small subset, I can't say it's 15% but it could be. And if I want to see my whole newsfeed, yes, there's a dropdown at the top of it that gives me that choice. But it doesn't persist. Each time I hit FB I have to change that setting again. And the setting doesn't exist on the mobile site or the mobile app (WP).

And as the page owner, I either solicited or consented to "friend/like" requests. So again, I should have the first and last word about who sees my content. Instead FB uses an algorithm I have no control over, and charges me extra to get the functionality I assumed I was getting by default (100% mutual visibility).
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:44 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


One workaround for Facebook's filter bubble mechanism that I've found: create a friend list, put everyone whose updates you want to see on it, and then look at the feed from that list rather than the main Facebook page.
posted by acb at 8:01 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders: "And as the page owner, I either solicited or consented to "friend/like" requests. So again, I should have the first and last word about who sees my content. Instead FB uses an algorithm I have no control over, and charges me extra to get the functionality I assumed I was getting by default (100% mutual visibility)."

Twitter has this, and I'd argue that it severely impedes the site's usability.
posted by schmod at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2012


TwelveTwo: Now I never search for mallards.

moneymane: You made mallards cry.

Don't mess with my cousins!
posted by Malor at 8:17 AM on October 1, 2012


verb: "I miss when the Internet was pieces of HTML people were serving off their own computers, and everyone communicated via newsgroups and email. But that was of the people, and it was hard to monetize.

Well, technically it was of the university compsci grad students, and then the undergads elbowed in and lowered the property values, and then commercial users tromped all over things, and then the AOL people came, and then the bloggers went and emo'd everything up, and then the LiveJournal kids proved you didn't even need to know HTML to do it, and then...
"

You fucking leave Livejournal out of this!
posted by symbioid at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2012


FB uses an algorithm I have no control over

What Peevish said. A lot of people in this thread seem to not realize the options that have been installed so that you can decide to receive all updates, “most” updates, some updates, or none, from a friend, and can also stop updates from “liked” products and productions. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that options for making some commercial and game notices permanently disappear has gone away, perhaps because people were easily and uniformly doing so.

I also interpret the relative lack of post glut these days to the more widespread discovery and use of tailored lists for various posts, so everyone isn’t making bland, G-rated posts to everyone, but different comments for different crowds. Either that or people are abandoning Facebook without closing their accounts. Hard to tell.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:50 AM on October 1, 2012


You'll end up in a ghetto. A very (technologically and/or culturally) literate ghetto, granted, but still a ghetto.

Well, yeah. But that seemed to be what the person I was responding to wanted. One person's ghetto is another person's pleasant social club.

If you want to be connected to "most of the rest of society," then you're going to be exposed to idiots, people who can't spell, hackneyed political screeds, ancient copypasta, dogwhistle racism, etc. Whether or not that tradeoff is worthwhile varies.

The same barriers that make a place a ghetto can also be perceived as keeping it free of the 'wrong sort' of people. All depends which side of the barrier you're on, I suspect, and whether you care about what's on the other side.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:56 AM on October 1, 2012


You'll end up in a ghetto. A very (technologically and/or culturally) literate ghetto, granted, but still a ghetto.
Not really. One of the defining features of a true ghetto is that it isn't voluntary. Facebook is more of a walled garden. You have to opt-in to play there, but no one is stopping you from leaving. Staying out of Facebook is closer to avoiding cities in favor of the "wholesome" countryside.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think this is so dumb. Facebook wants you to be a customer for life. You're going to tune out eventually if you have to wade through greymail postings on your account page to see what your friends are doing.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:28 AM on October 1, 2012


options that have been installed so that you can decide to receive all updates, “most” updates, some updates, or none, from a friend

So these are per-person settings? I'm going through my entire list of contacts (hundreds) and switching them on one by one? Please tell me I've got that wrong.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:04 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, that's right, but it's not like you must do so. I'm also at a loss to solve the issue of your complaint. The virtue is how fine-grained it is. I want to hear less from Person X; I can set it with up to four options for frequency of that person appearing in my newsfeed.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2012


So the article is a little hyperbolic and heavily focused on Social Media but it raises some really important questions for the User Experience community that has important and often unexamined implications.

Simply put: the business model of certain companies favor unusable products. A common example would be how some news stories are paginated to multiple pages when they could easily scroll vertically on one page. The user experience is poor because more pageviews = more ad space.

It is popular right now for companies to say they are "user focused", but when money making is at odds with usability, designers need to be ready to fight back and justify a business case for better UX. (For the above example, they could prove that paginated stories have significantly lower user retention than singe-page versions, or that 95% of the users who go to the "print-ready" aka one-page version are not intending to print at all).

Right now few people in the UX field are talking about what happens when those responsible for showing short-term profits are at odds with those tasked with championing more intangible, long-term benefits like user satisfaction.
posted by halseyaa at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Has anyone else noticed how broken Google searches are lately? Unless you're specifically looking for a product on Amazon or indeed want to see 25 search results in a row from monitizeme.com a lot of the Internet just went effectively dark.

Yes x100, and I use it professionally and personally almost all day long. They have been getting progressively worse through a combination of SEO and stupid users searching. This is my theory: when the results are weighted in part by what gets clicked on and you have many uninformed people clicking on obvious searchbait rubbish, that's what rises to the top. Sometimes, sometimes I can get better results by using the "verbatim" search option, especially when I'm looking for technical things like product numbers.

That being said, I find it entirely unacceptable for the #1 web search provider to give me a page full of search results displaying websites that do not even contain some of the search terms. I didn't put them there for shits and giggles, I put them there because I wanted to see websites that used those words. It completely undermines the efforts of those of us that have learned how to search properly (ie words and logic). Fuck that.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:17 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe we need to go back to a DMOZ curated style system. I've always loved Yahoo, and really found that was the best way to access information I was looking for. Who the fuck is going to filter all that, and who guarantees that it's not going to get filled w/cruft? Well, shit if I know.

I'm one of the QQing Septembrists, and I admit, I'm not one of the old school peepz, rather, I consider myself somewhat middle school... mid 90s... right on the cusp of when it really broke big. I held the whole Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace to be my creed, but these days I piss on it, because as has been pointed out above, I lost faith in humanity -- funny... I used to think this whole democratization via the internet was some great thing, that we would all become smarter and seek information and learn and grow, and instead, we get youtube comments and commercial spam and shitty search results, and pointless political games. The underbelly of humanity continues to be exposed.

Am I grateful that it exists? Fuck yeah - there's still a lot of great shit out there, and there's plenty of wonderful people, but it's just so hard to find it all in this Great Garbage Patch of the Internet Gyre...
posted by symbioid at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google needs to allow you to specify a list of domains that you never want to see (they could even incorporate that information into page rank). So for example I never want to see pages from ehow, about.com, yahoo answers or answers.com. They also should restrict the number of results from a single domain to one, at least in the first few pages.
posted by Mitheral at 2:52 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, yeah. But that seemed to be what the person I was responding to wanted. One person's ghetto is another person's pleasant social club.

The problem is that, however hard you try inviting people you meet in the outside world into your social club, few will take the bait, perhaps because they're already busy, or all the people they know other than the one weird refusenik are on Facebook and Twitter or because it looks a bit weird, with its old-school HTML/BBCode and/or association with hairsplitting about scifi TV shows, bad vampire poetry and/or bitterly earnest religious wars about text editing software. And of those who stick their heads up and find themselves in someone else's clubhouse, many will find that the effort to join the peculiar subculture of the site isn't worth it, especially when sites like Facebook are a broad church, with everybody from hipsters to yuppies, teenagers to octogenarians united by the lowest common denominator of one-line status updates and amusing animal photos. And the tragedy is that said lowest common denominator is just sufficiently compelling to leach away the motivation that would make more involving communities attractive to a lot of people, though it's a tragedy that can't be helped any more than the fate of, say, newspapers or the recording industry.
posted by acb at 4:15 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lot of people in this thread seem to not realize the options that have been installed so that you can decide to receive all updates, “most” updates, some updates, or none, from a friend, and can also stop updates from “liked” products and productions.

Although I am aware of the options, I have facebook fatigue and can't be bothered to input the time or interest into monitoring my options that constant updates seem to require when the product payout declines steadily. My account is open as an address book.
posted by skermunkil at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2012


Let me interrupt for an Emergency Broadcast of your friendly Ministry of Truth

1. netizens please remind you are not users, you are an audience. Please behave accordingly;

2. complaining for an entirely free service is unpolite. Please keep your disaffection entirely private - or buy some product related to disaffection. Discussing about the said product on a social network is entirely appropriate and it makes you a good person everybody likes.

3. netizens expecting to become social network celebrities: please consider becoming Lady Gaga first. Failing that, posting a picture of you with some celebrity on the said social network is entirely appropriate, we like you.

4. All the content submitted by you is bound to a perpetual copyright, non restrictive licence. We may own part of your life as you described it.

This was an Emergency Broadcast of your friendly Ministry of Truth. You may resume posting. Thank you!
posted by elpapacito at 6:09 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


and the users will always keep moving. people are fickle like that.

And some of the users are moving to decentralized Tent.
posted by Twang at 6:30 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photos or videos of animals looking ridiculous or looking ridiculous is something only The Great Unwashed like now? This FB stuff effects even that, you know. I want my photos of cat-scans to show up online, damn it, to not be filtered or requiring of sponsorship!
posted by raysmj at 9:48 PM on October 1, 2012


Google needs to allow you to specify a list of domains that you never want to see

Curious. I was going to point out that you if you back out to the search results page from a link you've followed Google gives you the option of blocking that site/domain, but I guess that was a short lived experiment a couple years back since I'm not seeing it any more?

Twitter has this, and I'd argue that it severely impedes the site's usability.

Twitter has paid-for "promoted tweets," but my understanding was that their purpose was to broadcast to people who aren't following the company in question, and that nothing is filtered out from the feeds of users who have chosen to follow.
posted by nobody at 6:35 AM on October 2, 2012


Hold on: I don't see a way to reliably link to the page directly (though maybe this will work if you're logged into a Google account?), but if you go into "search settings" (gear icon in the upper right, visible from any search results page) and scroll down to the bottom, there's a "Blocking unwanted results" section that lets you manually filter search results. Presumably you need to be logged in, so that might be a trade-off for some.
posted by nobody at 6:39 AM on October 2, 2012


People use Facebook in very different ways. The Facebook I signed up for, first as a user, and then as an artist and then as a small business owner (one personal account, and two pages) offered a very consistent service. Everything I clicked 'like' on and every person I friended was given equal weight unless I chose to give it more weight (adding my friends to a list) or less weight ("hide invites from [x]", block FarmVille, etc. ). I had issues with the company, but the product was offering me something very close to the democratic ideal of what I wanted from the Internet.

If I clicked like on the restaurant my friend opened because I wanted to show support, a local noise band because I wanted to know when they had a new song out or a show coming up, and Bacardi because I wanted to win a contest they were offering, updates from all three would show up chronologically in my feed. If I saw them I saw them, if I didn't I didn't. Out of those three, the only one I'm damn near guaranteed to see now is Bacardi, because they have an advertising budget bigger than the other two entity's yearly income. They just did a cool series of videos with Paul F Tompkins, but it's still just empty advertising I can get elsewhere on the web and certainly not MORE important than the info from those other two pages.

Socially, this has turned my Facebook page into an echo chamber. I'm only hearing from the people I see every day, my best friends and my work friends, not the people I joined Facebook to connect with, the far flung family and school friends whose lives have taken very interesting, divergent turns away from mine. It shows me a world where there are more transgendered anarchist performance artists than republicans (which would be rad, but just isn't true). Every time I log into Facebook I have to change the default from "most popular" to "most recent".

As a page owner, Facebook offered me a deal. I put up a picture or a status update, and the people who clicked like on my page would find it in their feed chronologically on their feed, unless they chose to hides updates.

In the last year, Facebook has taken away that equal weight and that functionality, and they're asking me to pay them to get it back. I'd be fine with this (begrudging, but understanding) if they were forthright about what my money got me, which ones of my fans were seeing my posts, but they aren't. They're offering me vague things like "$5 and 1-2k of your followers see your post, $10 and 2-4k see it, $30 and it's 6-9k" (I don't have 6,000 page followers so I'm assuming that this means friends of people that are connected to me will be shown their interactions with my page (those are the numbers they've given me to promote any single post. I don't know if bigger/smaller companies get bigger/smaller requests. They don't explain how their algorithms work. They don't explain who gets to see my post, whether it's the people most-likely to click 'like' or attend an event or just the people that are least valuable to Coca Cola.

A casual Facebook user may or not know that Facebook has changed this aspect of the site, and depending on how they use their site it may or may not hamper their enjoyment of the site. What I do know is that some people who want to see my updates, are being kept from them, through no fault of their own, and through no change in either of our behavior.

Just wanted to put that out there. At one point Facebook was a real boon to my business, despite being super super sleazy in regards to privacy and moralistic in regard to content. Now it's more of an obstacle, that makes me actually want to root for the new MySpace reboot (which is something I never thought I'd do).
posted by elr at 1:18 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I use Facebook for (a) staying in touch with music contacts, and (b) staying in touch with musician's pages. It's useful for me to see what musicians have to say. We're not talking about 'liking' Walmart or something, we're talking about keeping tabs on collaborators, bands I blog about, et cetera. I need to know what they're doing, and it's good to know if an album is coming out, etc so I can scoop on a review, for example. Not all posts are spam.
You can switch the filter to "most recent" instead of whatever the algorithm selects.

You can also check on people's/pages timelines directly.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on October 2, 2012


As a page owner, Facebook offered me a deal. I put up a picture or a status update, and the people who clicked like on my page would find it in their feed chronologically on their feed, unless they chose to hides updates.
If you're not paying them, it's not a deal.

Seriously, commercial spam is annoying. As much as you might imagine that people are just dying to hear about your business, the reality is they probably don't care. And if they logged on to facebook seeing a bunch of spam instead of posts by the people/things they are most likely to care about.

Again, people are acting like this is a straight 15% filter. That's not how it works. That's the average. If you like or comment on a person's post a lot, then you'll be more likely to see their stuff. If you don't, you'll be less likely to see it.

If people aren't seeing your page's posts, it means that they didn't often like it, reply to comments, or whatever. It means they didn't care.

And ultimately facebook's job is to make people's newsfeed as interesting to them as possible. They use like/comment/etc data to make that determination. Might not be perfect. But facebook doesn't owe the world a free spam platform.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also if there is something you want to see, that you feel you're not getting enough of, you can manually edit your interest list to include their posts.

The problem is what other people.
posted by delmoi at 7:20 PM on October 2, 2012


You can switch the filter to "most recent" instead of whatever the algorithm selects.

It still unilaterally decides that some of your contacts are uninteresting and filters them out in this mode.
posted by acb at 7:53 AM on October 3, 2012


Wired - Juking Your Facebook ‘Like’ Stats As Easy As Sending a Message
It’s long been known that Facebook scans internal messages for spam and security risks — and that it blocks users from sending links to torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay. But Facebook has never been clear how much data-mining its doing of users’ private conversations. It turns out, at least some is provably going on.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:23 PM on October 4, 2012


delmoi: "How is that 'broken'? It seems to me that filtering out corporate span and showing people post from their actual friends would be a feature rather then a bug."

If you can circumvent this filtering by paying Facebook money, then instead of finding out about the things I actually like and care about, I'm finding out about things that have the largest bankrolls. That doesn't seem right either.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Selling You On Facebook - Many popular Facebook apps are obtaining sensitive information about users—and users' friends—so don't be surprised if details about your religious, political and even sexual preferences start popping up in unexpected places.

mefi's own cstross: Not An April Fool
There is an app, currently on the Apple app store as a free download, called Girls Around Me.

A couple of days ago, computer journalist John Brownlee wrote an essay about it explaining why he found it disturbing. I'd like to propose that it is symptomatic of a really major side-effect of our forced acculturation into Facebook's broken model of human social interaction—a broken model shared by all the most successful social networks, by design—and that it is going to get much worse, until it kills people. Quite possibly in very large numbers.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:08 AM on October 14, 2012


nobody writes "Curious. I was going to point out that you if you back out to the search results page from a link you've followed Google gives you the option of blocking that site/domain, but I guess that was a short lived experiment a couple years back since I'm not seeing it any more?"

I never back out of results as I open all search result pages in new tabs but this is good to know.

nobody writes "Hold on: I don't see a way to reliably link to the page directly (though maybe this will work if you're logged into a Google account?), but if you go into "search settings" (gear icon in the upper right, visible from any search results page) and scroll down to the bottom, there's a "Blocking unwanted results" section that lets you manually filter search results. Presumably you need to be logged in, so that might be a trade-off for some."

Ah Ha, so there is. Seems like a fair trade to me. It would be kind of unfair (and impossible) to expect personalized serviced without in some way identifing myself for that service. Bye bye eHow.
posted by Mitheral at 6:59 AM on October 14, 2012


Surprise! You Can Use Facebook For Caller ID.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2012


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