Snakes and Lab Rats

I’ve about had it with Facebook. (yes…again)

Go take a look at this

Facebook is experimenting on us again.


A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a record breaking monthly rainfall in my market, I posted this picture on the station Facebook page with a quick comment about safety around flood waters. According to Mr. Zuckerberg it did 1.1 million reach…..from an account with about 24,000 Likes. Baloney. WSOC, referenced in the article above…baloney.

A couple of years ago James Spann’s Facebook account disappeared on a Saturday afternoon. Boom. Gone. No explanation, big trouble trying to get it back, yadda, yadda, yadda…it reappeared late Sunday morning and I was able to get James a spot on the influencial tech podcast This Week in Google to talk about the incident. Several other TV weather accounts had disappeared around the same time.

As James was telling the story one of the hosts sent a note to Facebook’s chief lobbyist in Washington asking for an explanation. By the time James finished his tale, the response came in. “It was a mistake.” WHAT?! Everyone on the program said, “Oh, okay.” WHAT?!?!

The really interesting part of the story came the following week when the show host mentioned that he had gotten another note from his Facebook contact the following day. The executive told the host that everyone who could have answered the question had been off-campus and when someone finally got back to him the actual answer was, “It was a mistake.” WHAT?!?!?

We’re lab rats. Remember the revelation that Facebook manipulated the feeds of more than three-quarters of a million people with positive and negative stories to measure how it affected their posts? Remember when Facebook used a third-party company to track users credit card purchases to prove to advertisers that their ads worked? Remember when Facebook served up a picture of a snake to 1.1 million people?

I contend that TV weather people led the way into this. News followed and some estimates are that some sites get 70% their traffic from Facebook. We blew it. Filling Pages with perishable temperature maps, that are filtered by EdgeRank may “feel like work” but it is a disservice.

So, quit complaining, Kevin. Just leave.

The last few days I’ve found myself with an opportunity to work on a little side project. Facebook would probably be helpful.

Oh…..wait. Look at that yummy piece of cheese over there…I love cheese. Wonder what that giant spring loaded piece of metal is behind the cheese? Huh…probably nothing.

(SNAP) (Gasp) (death rattle…….)


About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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2 Responses to Snakes and Lab Rats

  1. RDale says:

    I completely agree with you that we need to leave Facebook… The question is – how do we do it? Just stop posting and hope all weather sources do the same at the same time? Google+ certainly isn’t an option, and Twitter doesn’t allow me to tell a story.

    • Kevin Selle says:

      Kinda feels like we are stuck, Rob. Which is one of the many reasons it is so frustrating. They learned from the mistakes of the past, AOL, MySpace and they have us trapped by our friends and families. Also disappointing is that no one will challenge because no news org would dare make them angry.

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