I have watched yesterday the video The Problem With Facebook by Derek Muller published on Devour. Although I found the video interesting, I must point out there a quite a few inaccuracies about what Derek presents and that I find his theory lacking some basic solid evidence.
Let’s watch the video and go through some points in common, things I disagree with and questions I prepared for Derek.
1) “People you disagree with will vanish from your news-feed.” I find this statement incorrect. The correct sentence should be “people you don’t engage with will vanish from your news-feed.” In fact, Facebook is also used to express disagreement over published content and I find it inaccurate to label Facebook’s algorithm as an attempt to create an echo chamber of self affirming views.
2) I don’t find it weird to have to “like” or “share” a post to express interest in a piece of content. How would Facebook then be able to adapt your timeline according to your preferences?
2) “The problem is Facebook is using is filtering power to make money” Isn’t that the technique used by any information system or media outlet? Why is it evil if this is done by a social network whose target is to become the best tailor-made newspaper?
3) The push-to-buy-advertisement point is true. Facebook is indeed restricting the reach of fan pages’ posts in order to encourage fan pages’ managers to buy advertisement. Now, the question is “Is this practice fair?” In my opinion yes, with constraints. If a business or a public figure like Veritasium is benefitting from a service that Facebook provides, why shouldn’t Facebook, or any other social network, try to monetize these efforts?
The problem that these raises is the differentiation between what I call “genuine” and “non-genuine” social profiles. This problem also applies to Twitter and those who buy followers to gain visibility within their community. Certainly, pushing pages’ owners to buy advertisement increases this problem to the final user of the product (the regular people) for which a solid solution has indeed not been provided by Facebook.
4) The viewer-creator-advertiser triangle sounds like an interesting theory but lacks evidence. It is not true that viewers are advertisers simply because most viewers (like in YouTube) are not creator. In making this point Derek completely overlooks the differentiation between profiles, pages and groups that Facebook provides. Not all profiles are content creators and can’t then be advertisers. Although, that does apply to fan pages which are by definition content creators and, in a very far-fetching way, advertisers but only if they become non-genuine pages.
5) People don’t check those Facebook ads. True. However, this is mostly because of poor targeting by the advertisers themselves. I believe, local businesses have higher potentials to profit from Facebook ads because of their ability to “target” their efforts both demographically and geographically while most ads you see on your right hand Facebook bar are from distant advertisers which use Facebook the wrong way simply because, as Derek points out, people go on Facebook ” to keep up with their family and friends” not to get spammed. in this instance, Facebook are smart and huge advertisers are wasting their money.
6) “People go to Google when they want to buy things.” Hold on. People go to Google because they want to find stuff out and perhaps coincidentally sometimes this “stuff” is buying something. Besides, Google ads work actually very similarly to Facebook ads. The difference is that Google provides better filtering which is empowered by the fact that Google is a multi-platform business where information about users’ preferences are gathered through tons of channels (Google search, YouTube, Google Plus, Gmail, Google Play…)
7) “On Twitter, they don’t filter any tweets.” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??? Tweets are filtered based on the Twitter algorithm which is based on the way you interact with others. Secondly, also on Twitter you can have promoted posts, so according to your theory, also all Twitterers should be advertisers, right? Probably the filtering situation on Twitter is even worse since you can BUY FOLLOWERS which is a dreadful way to increase your visibility and popularity among your community.
8) “Facebook has saturated the whole developed world.” This is true. Their biggest enemy will be to manage information overload.
What do you people think?