What’s on Your Mind, Facebook?

Facebook pesters me to add more content to my page regardless of how much I post.

I could post twenty times a day and still wouldn’t make any difference, for how much I post isn’t really what’s on Facebook’s mind.

It literally goads by forcing the exact number of people reached on me, while offering to ‘boost’ posts so they reach more.

For a fee.

What does Facebook mean by ‘boosted to’ and people ‘reached’ anyway?

If the first is anything like the unsolicited posts from unknown pages popping up in feeds trying to sell something or other, why inflict on others what irritates the Hell out of me?

Especially as nothing on offer is ever of any interest; something both adding to the irritation while also showing Facebook targeting to not be all that accurate.

Carelessly scrolled past, then, is the likelihood of ‘reached‘.

What even is ‘Facebook’?

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Image courtesy of Glen Carrie

Many are quick to dismiss it. One member of my family even went to so far as to claim it the work of Satan until a friend uploaded some pics there that they wanted to see; given the choice of getting a look quick sharp or waiting until they saw the person, they fast went the way of the Devil.

Not liking it is one thing. Failing to realise Facebook’s worldwide importance, though, is a bit like still refusing to understand Evolution.


Goodluck_Jonathan_2014

Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, 14th President of Nigeria.

The beginnings can be seen back in 2010, when Nigeria’s then President Goodluck Jonathan ended months of speculation about whether he would contest upcoming elections by confirming he would in a Facebook post.

The press had to ask officials to confirm its validity; this BBC article focuses as much, if not more, on the decision to do it that way than the connotations of what the post said.

They even try and give the whole thing a higher credibility by using terms like ‘announcement’ and ‘statement’ blissfully unaware of how the still-relatively-new-and-seemingly-harmless social media post was about to pull the rug on their need to be in the news-giving equation.


Roll onto 2017, and screenshots of social media updates from The President of the United States are regular media fodder, while Facebook has made the news in relation to Russians potentially manipulating the platform to make the current incumbent exactly that.

It isn’t limited to politics, either: in October 2017 Israeli police arrested a Palestinian after the Facebook auto translator incorrectly translated a post of ‘good morning’ as ‘attack them’.

Like it or not, Facebook is clearly now a big player on the world stage.

Evidently, though, it’s far from a force for good.

There are thousands of pages for fans of this and/or that all of which exist in absolutely no official capacity at all.

Most of us have done it: liked a page on Facebook that some random individual who just happens to like something the same as us decided for whatever reason to create and then post from.

In fact, we have so little actual knowledge of the page starter, we only assume they also like what the page is about.

It’s the kind of thing we tell children to never do – like taking candy from a stranger, only it isn’t Halloween and we aren’t checking for needles and tampered with wrappers.

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Should Facebook’s logo come with a warning?

Recently I started following a page for Alan Partridge fans. Alan is just one persona of comedian Steve Coogan.

I didn’t go looking for it; it kept popping up in my feed due to the methods described in Facebook is a Flipping Pest. By its own definition the page is severely limited in what it can justifiably post.

In that respect it hasn’t posted anything not freely available on You Tube. There’s no insider angle, nothing never seen anywhere else before; not even someone hilariously brilliant at impersonating Partridge pulling the strings to cast an Alan-esque view on current affairs.

But apparently, instead of looking things up anytime a quick fix of Norfolk’s finest is fancied, people prefer to let some random interject whatever they see fit into their feed whenever they feel like it and Facebook decides to show it to them.

Much of what’s posted has nothing to do with Alan at all.

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Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge in tattoo form on an adoring fan’s leg.

Credit where it’s due, the page doesn’t fly too far from the pear tree – always remaining perched somewhere in the happy forest of comedy.

But that slight deviation from Alan’s wood is enough to get the page plenty of ‘stop getting Partridge wrong’ comments.

Apparently it’s never occurred to the person behind the Alan page that people would like the other comedy pages if that’s what they wanted to see in their feed. Or has it?

After all, why would someone start a page with such a restrictive name only to then post things loosely related to it, especially as it gets grief every time it does?

Perhaps more relevant, why don’t those irritated by the non-Alan posts simply unlike the page; maybe even go look for another or even start one of their own, instead of spending the time expressing said irritation in a comment?

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An example of a comment received when going of topic (also note the sensational nature of the headline).

One slight detour in particular turned out to be reaction-getting gold.

The page returns to it as often as it reasonably can.

Surely no one in their right mind would suggest everyone has to laugh at something for it to be comedy. Yet . . . post a link to an article about Mrs Browns’ Boys being voted best comedy of the 21st Century – BOOM! social media gun powder.

The motives of the page creator could be asinine as getting a kick out of winding people up while sitting in a dark bedroom, to luring them to an endgame malware delivery from an evil hacker lair.

It doesn’t matter. The way to draw people in (so combating the problem of obscurity) remains the same.


A brief clip from Mrs Browns’ Boys


When reaction’s the name of the game, any worth a story might contain risks getting thrown under the bus for a hook of a headline pungent enough to ignite the attention span of the dickhead scroll-by comment leavers.

A fundamental rule of sales: best time to close a deal is as soon as you can get a signature on the dotted line (or as the case is here, a comment in a box).

Having an inflammable substance like gluten just lying about is an absolute Heaven Send for anyone wanting to create a social media firestorm. A headline like ‘Gluten Intolerance Not Real, says Doctor’ will have numerous people chomping at the bit to comment and share without a care for what the article might say or how valid it really is.

The Mrs Brown debacle goes on and on, but what exactly is the source of all the ire?

Who has the authority to make such a grand declaration about what can be considered the greatest of something so subjective?

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Did the government carefully select a committee to conduct years of dedicated, precious research, reasoning and study to allow such a precocious result? (image courtesy of rawpixel)

The source of so much controversy turns out to be The Radio Times.

According to this article in The Independent – a grand total of, wait for it, 14,000 people took part in the poll.

If the headline had run something like Radio Times Poll of 14,000 People Says…how many people do you think would’ve cared what readers of it thought?

The only fact of the ‘story’ was the thing most likely to switch people off of it.

The controversy caused went far beyond Alan’s page. So much so, Metro decided it was worthy enough of a news story in its own right.

Next:

Previously in this series:

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.

CIRCLEDuckBlack

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