First published on Patrick Dunford
I’m not going to labour this point big time but anyone who uses Facebook for any length of time soon realises that there is massive manipulation of their news feed going on.
Ok, we can understand that people can have a lot of friends or likes and this results in a lot of information that is potentially going into your news feed and how do you keep up with it all. That dilemma is a key question for all of us when using social media and my reaction to it has been to unfollow anyone who posts more than about once a day because their posts tend to dominate my newsfeed. At the same time I also choose to use separate pages for much of my output (for example this post is going to a Facebook page that is separate from my personal profile although it has the same name) so that people can choose whether to follow these pages if they want to see these messages.
Likewise for the majority of groups that I follow, particularly those which get a high volume of daily traffic, I have unfollowed the group so that its posts do not appear in my news feed or notifications but I can choose to visit this group using a bookmark or a link from the left hand column and read the posts on my schedule.
However I have noticed over time that unless I tick that box that says “See first” then what I do get to see from a particular page or personal profile that I may be following (or be friends with in the case of a person) is definitely being filtered. An example, a ministry page that I became aware I hadn’t seen many posts from for a while, I went to this page and discovered quite a number of posts that had never appeared in my feed. The reason apparently, as this ministry’s page has only about 100 likes, Facebook has apparently decided they are not as important as pages that have much more likes, and has given them a very low priority in the news feed.
The real issue is that with Facebook you do not have any control over your feed, whereas with older technologies like RSS, you actually have the ability to receive every update and have them filed in a hierarchy that you can check when you have time, even when they send 10 updates a day. Facebook has justified their manipulative techniques on the basis that everything appears in a continuous feed instead of some kind of organisation which means in practice we have to keep browser bookmarks for each page and go to them manually because the great Facebook is incapable of presenting anything like an RSS feed to us, because the real reason is that Facebook wants to be able to justify manipulating what we see for their own commercial purposes.
And that is without the biggest problem with Facebook, which is that they control so much of the platform that you have no control over, for example that there is no built-in page comment moderation capability, there is no built-in page review moderation capability, so people end up having to shut down a page because someone with a vendetta is allowed to vandalise it and they cannot be stopped because, after all, you do not own your page and it is not there to serve you, it is there to serve Facebook’s commercial purposes. And Facebook can delete your page at any time without you having any rights at all and ban you off the platform.
It is for this reason that I continue to maintain blogs on Facebook independent platforms like WordPress and Blogger that I have some control over so that I can get away from total dependence on Facebook. These platforms give me a lot more ability to do things like moderation than Facebook provides. Unfortunately a lot of people out there are not capable of using any other online system except FB or Instagram or whatever which means we are all locked into one of these platforms to keep up with their news whereas I think everyone should sign up for a free WordPress personal blog at least so that we can take an RSS feed off it and completely bypass Facebook. I have about two dozen sites that I keep up with using RSS, unfortunately many people who have a separate website do not provide a RSS feed, instead they insist you use Facebook or some other social media platform. Both WordPress and Blogger turn RSS on by default, so any sites out there based on either of these platforms are easy to get RSS feeds off and Mozilla Thunderbird is a great free RSS reader that is really easy to use.