Earlier this month, our site’s founder Jeff Weisbein wrote a post explaining his dissatisfaction with the way that Facebook’s new algorithm has affected BestTechie’s presence on the social networking platform. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones feeling the sting of Facebook’s new math: a post on Business Insider from yesterday tells the story of cookbook author Stephanie Stiavetti, who is one of many independent business owners kicking up dust over how posts are being crowded out in favor of ads from bigger companies.
What’s worse, though, is that Sitiavetti says that Facebook has been hitting her up for cash to promote her posts in order to adequately reach her 8,000 fans on the site. She wrote all about it on her blog a couple weeks ago:
“It’s terrible that Facebook has decided to hide our work from your eyes after you’ve already expressed interest in seeing it. We are not large brands selling products; the vast majority of food bloggers are moms, dads, husbands, wives, hobbyists, students, writers — everyday folks who just want to invite you into our kitchens.”
The end result? She’s basically done posting on Facebook, taking her social networking to other sites. The post goes on to offer insights from social media marketing firm Ignite, which is similarly threatening to leave the site for greener pastures. I’ve found similar tactics that feel a lot like extortion when posting updates for my band’s site on Facebook. Lots of times I’m hit with little messages asking me to boost my post’s reach by paying a few bucks. Otherwise, I guess our hundreds of followers will have to settle for another advertisement for Walmart instead.
For its part, Facebook has responded to these criticisms by explaining that advertisers are filling people’s news feeds lately because of the holiday ad-buying season. Once that’s over, the logic goes, normal posts will start to find eyeballs again. It remains to be seen if that’s actually the case, but regardless, it’s a pretty lousy situation for people who’ve built reputations and followings on Facebook, only to have it amount to nothing right now.
It feels, to me, a bit like the recent kerfuffle between Google and Rap Genius. Google and Facebook integrate themselves into our lives to such an extent that they feel like utilities. Need to know something? Google it—the search engine will find what you’re looking for because it feels like a neutral and natural source of information. But in reality, they’re both companies with agendas.
Those 8,000 likes Stiavetti thinks she has on Facebook aren’t hers at all—they’re Facebook’s. And the company wants you to pay for the privilege of having access to them, simple as that.