There’s A Lot More To Be Outraged At Facebook About Than How They Treat Your Data

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Censorship 101

Let’s say you’re a small time criminal who likes to engage in a little food stamp fraud every month bring in some extra cash to feed your drug habit. You use Facebook as a means to reach out to your potential customers. This works great until a local blog gets wind that you’re posting on public groups how you’re selling your gov’t benefits…and have a fake GoFundMe going too. So they do a story on you, which is read by thousands and blows up your whole spot…if it doesn’t get you arrested.

What do you do?

Report the blog’s content for “nudity”. Then get all your friends to do the same. Then get every other criminal that the blog has reported on to do the same. That’s how you get a Facebook page with 120,000+ followers to be unpublished. If enough people report content enough times, Facebook will automatically delete content, regardless of whether it violates any of Facebook’s terms of service.

That’s what happened to Turtleboy Sports.

Fortunately, their editor is a sharp guy who knows that he can’t have all his eggs in one basket and has rapidly diversified both through a variety of social media sites, numerous Facebook assets and a phone app.

But someone shouldn’t have to do that for a blog that just features relevant local news and commentary, but delves into the seedy underside of crime and politics.

Interestingly, when the editor of Turtleboy Sports offered to spend $50k a month on Facebook ads, he was assured that all his issues with Facebook censorship would go away.

Imagine a third-world country where your guilt or innocence was determined by the number of people who accused you of a crime…but you could get out of jail anytime you want if you pay the warden $50,000 a month. Is that a place that you’d want to move to?

It’s Zuckerberg’s world and we’re all just living in it…for now.

Looking back over the years, it’s interesting to notice how the enjoyment derived from the site has risen and waned over the years. “Back in the day” when you posted something, pretty much all of your friends who were on the site would see it. That was in part to the fact that most people only had a couple hundred Facebook friends. The experience was bare bones and raw…and full of memes. Every time you logged onto Facebook, you’d just scroll through dozens of memes. Many were funny, a few would be repeats, lots had typos and misspellings…and they were sort of like the Chinese food of web content. You’d get on Facebook and have a good time while you were there…but if you got off 20 minutes later and someone asked you what you’d seen and done, it was all forgettable.

In 2013 a big change happened, which brought about the golden age of web publishing. Zuckerberg implemented the biggest changes to Facebook’s algorithm yet. Memes were out…their reach heavily penalized by Facebook. Suddenly links were huge. If you had a website and could write blog posts, Facebook wanted your content and they would make sure lots of people saw it.

That was great for a while until sites like Viral Nova figured out how to hack both Facebook’s algorithm and the human mind and got everyone to click on rather vacuous content for fun and profit. This created a time of the worst of the clickbait (You won’t believe #7!) It also created the phenomenon of the daily viral story. Similar to how a big story published by the New York Times will dominate cable news and talk radio for a day or two…each day there would be a dozen stories that every major “news” website made a post about.

During this time, the number of Facebook users and the amount of time they’re spending on the site is growing endlessly. In 2015 Facebook decided they wanted to spend a bit more time on their site (in front of their advertisers). So they announced that they were cutting the reach of Pages in favor of content posted by your friends and family. This started a trend where Facebook has repeatedly downgraded content being posted by businesses in favor of people that you, the user engage with the most.

The problem is that now, the people you “engage with” the most are those people you know who are your ideological opponents who you’re in endless arguments with. That said, we’re kind of guessing that a national fatigue is setting in.

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