The Problem with Facebook and the Monetisation of Socialisation

Facebook is keeping things from you.  Every day you increase the pages and friends you like this means the amount of posts that appear in you timeline will gradually increase overtime.  Because you will be unable to see all the content unless you are all day, Facebook has developed advanced filtering systems to distribute posts in your Newsfeed that are “relevant” to you.  This is  done through a complex algorithm called EdgeRank which uses thousands of variables to rank Facebook friends and Pages on your Newsfeed.  The problem with this is that one strong factor that influences the EdgeRank is your level of agreement towards your friend or Page you liked, this is measured mainly by your interaction with Likes, clicks, comments and share.  Since normally you do not Like, click or share content you disagree with Facebook assumes this is content you do not want to see in your Newsfeed, therefore it will become an echo chamber of self affirming views, with things you already think and believe.  But this is just part of the problem, because the remaining posts and content hidden from you must now pay to reach you. S4FDDS857CPS

Post reach and EdgeRank

Haven’t you asked yourself, why x-friend or y-Page is not appearing anymore in your timeline?  Well the main reason is because the EdgeRank algorithm has decided to bury their content from your timeline in order to give space to content you are more likely to engage with.  The reason is because the post will reach only users who are more likely to engage with it, which is usually less than 30% of you fan base.  With EdgeRank Facebook has automatically reduced the organic reach of every Page by using strong filters that distribute content based on fan potential engagement.  The problem with this is that unless you pay through Facebook Ads or Post Boost you wont be able to reach the remaining 70% of your fan base at all.

EdgeRank and the Monetized Socialization Business Model

The EdgeRank algorithm allowed the establishment of a competitive model within Facebook, where Friends and Fan Pages struggle to create frequent and engaging content to avoid being buried into oblivion.  This is the foundation of Facebook’s business model which works by monetising the socialisation of Pages and Users through Post Boosts and Facebook Ads.  Unlike Twitter and Youtube, where users and content creators distribute their content for free and equally throughout the social network Facebook has restricted the social reach of user content by creating a business model that forces them to pay to increase their reach.

In Youtube for example the incentives of users, content creators and advertisers are aligned.  Content creators get paid for content by the advertisers who want to reach the most amount of users and users get their digital oxytocin* hit by watching fun videos, its a win-win situation.  While on Facebook Fan Page owners have no way to monetise their content and the only one who make money from the platform is Mark Zuckerberg.  Advertisers make money indirectly, but content creators’ only reward is having “engaging” content, a bunch of likes, comments and shares.

Pros and Cons Facebook’s EdgeRank

Pros

  • New users have a legitimate shortcut to increase engagement and fan base rapidly
  • Page owners who have abandoned their Pages for long periods of time can reactivate their reach by boosting posts
  • The EdgeRank algorithm can actually filter a lot of irrelevant content that could potentially flood your Newsfeed
  • Reduced CPM price by actually providing engaging Pages a cheaper cost per reach.

Cons

  • Unfair competitive model. Page owners with advertising budget will always have the edge over Pages that don’t pay
  • The EdgeRank algorithm isn’t perfect and could vanish content from your NewsFeed that could actually be interesting to you
  • Facebook Ads and Post Boosts have become a great shortcut for advertisers on Facebook who are invading users’ NewsFeed with commercial content without having their consent
  • Facebook ultimately decides what you should see or not

Do you want Facebook to decide what you see?

The question is, do you really want Facebook to decide what you see or not?  This is basically EdgeRank’s task is to learn about what you like and love and distribute it in your timeline.  This can actually convert your NewsFeed into an echo chamber of self assuring views and thoughts by only showing you things that you agree with.  EdgeRank’s t. But do you only want to see all the time things that you potentially like and love? This is actually a moral issue since Facebook is assuming the role of judge of your taste and opinions. Hmmm??

This is an interesting video by Veritassium which explains the problem with Facebook really well

*About Digital Oxytocin. What is your incentive when using Facebook? Some study out there by CalTech California Institute of Technology discovered that using Social Media stimulates the release of oxytocin, a special molecule that makes us feel trusted.  Social Media is basically an unlimited source of oxytocin, where you can find readily available trust 24/7, and you keep come back every time for more.  Scientifically this is a way to demonstrate a strong biological incentive that drives people into using Social Media, and specially Facebook which is the most widely used social network which the study concluded is the Social Network that stimulates more oxytocin release.

Published by

Anthony Tate

Psychologist with a master in communication and journalism. Currently consulting on digital media and online advertising... and sole writer at Criticality, ;)

Leave a Reply