Got a little popup when I logged into Facebook this morning. (actually it came up twice, the first time with faces of some friends)
There was some buzz the last two weeks about Facebook ranking algorithms, specifically loss of engagement and the use of the Social News Desk app. Defenders were quick to make excuses for Facebook, even publishing quotes from representatives assuring us that everything was okay and that truly good content rises to the top.
The story should be told again about the time that James Spann’s Facebook account disappeared for 18 hours shortly before a severe weather event. James appeared on This Week in Google where Jeff Jarvis sent a note to a Facebook representative in Washington, DC, asking about the disappearance. The immediate response was, “It was a mistake.” A week later Jarvis told of getting a note from the same Facebook rep the next day, explaining that all of the Facebook people in California who could have answered were off campus when he originally asked the question. The rep was following up with Jarvis to tell him that he had finally heard from someone in a position to give a real answer. That answer was, “It was a mistake”. Hmmm. Also important to note that several other television meteorologists had experienced outages around that time.
The popup notification was to promote the “Close Friends” option, allowing you to give some priority to friends you “really” want to see. All of the major social platforms are heavily investing in user controls and algorithms that allow for filtering, and they are seeking to understand user “intent”.
Some are suggesting that media posts, previously seen by perhaps 15% of your followers, are now seen by closer to 5%.
Social media platforms have great value, and are enabling amazing things, but make no “mistake”, the controls continue to move to the end user and “pull” will continue to become more valuable than “push”. (see this post from last year).