The Problem with Facebook: “It’s Keeping Things From You”

You liked our Facebook page. Now you’re expecting to see our material in your Facebook news feed. It’s not an unreasonable expectation. But it’s also very unlikely to happen. As Derek Muller, the curator of science video blog Veritasium, explains very articulately in the video above, “The problem with Facebook is that it’s keeping things from you. You don’t see most of what’s posted by your friends or the pages you follow.” And that’s partly because, Muller goes on to explain, Facebook is overwhelmed by content, and busy trying to find ways to monetize its newsfeed. Following a change to an algorithm in December, the problem has only gotten worse. (We have 245,000 followers, and maybe 7,000 — or 2% — see a post on average in January, as compared to 30,000 in November.) If you care about how you use Facebook — either to connect with friends, or gather information — the video is well worth watching. It clearly lets you know that Facebook is controlling your social media experience, when it should be you.

Note: If you want to make sure you receive all of our posts, get our daily email or sign up for our RSS feed. Facebook doesn’t control those … yet.

You can read more about this issue at Slate.



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Comments (17)
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  1. Wabble says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 3:02 am

    Just get a feed reader. Facebook does not control that, either.

  2. Mother Theresa says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 7:33 am

    Ironic I’m ‘liking’ this on fb.

  3. Bert says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 7:56 am

    Hey,

    thanks for the video. I noticed the big drop of my company page a few weeks ago. After some research, I started testing the paid tool, but it now really feels like collaborating in a system that is basically blackmailing you – either you pay, or you can’t reach for your audience/followers. It’s a constructed rat race that will be hard to get out of, since it will only work if enough companies/people don’t join/pay. But then what to do with your hard earned fan base?

    B

  4. John Boanerges Redman says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 9:36 am

    You asked for feedback on what our outreach on FB turns out to be. I have 500+ friends divided between folk music performers/fellow fans and freedom activists. I post 20 to 100 links per day. I get virtually no trackback from the Folkies (I have face to face confirm from some that they do not get my posts while I DO get theirs) but some from the activists. With that, I get posts from a lot that don’t “hear” me. I comment on many of the posts on my feed and get responses to the comments I make, even from some who tag my name. I have to say that THIS is not what I had envisioned when I started building up my friends network. Maybe these competing social media are where its at. Answer back, if you please.

  5. Andres says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 10:09 am

    From a content receiver perspective, there is another solution without having to quit facebook: Switch from a passive information consumer to an information seeker. You like someone’s page in fb?, go visit their wall every now and then and read their posts! Don’w wait for someone to pre-package information for you. And also, up-to-the minute news for such topics is a bit overrated…

  6. Meg says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 10:25 am

    @Andres excellent point. Does anyone remember when facebook first implemented a News Feed, and EVERYONE hated it? Go find the content you want, don’t wait for it to come to you!

  7. kevin says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 11:42 am

    Cool, but a couple of points. First I like that Facebook puts the corp ads on the sidebar where I get better and better at ignoring them, and I dislike that YouTube slaps me in the face with vid corp ads when I click on something I want to see. FB is aiming at a model that makes users the advertisers. I like it. FB is keeping the revenue, I like not so much. Contrast with YT bribing users with a cut of the dirty money. The Next FB might split the revenue with all members equally such that non-advertising users get the face-slap cushioned and big advertising users get less kickback per ad so the little bus gets a bit of subsidy.

  8. Edward Antrobus says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 11:56 am

    Facebook is simply oversaturating the ad potential of their platform. It’s not uncommon to see a dozen ads in the stream.

    Complicating the matter is the fact that there isn’t enough variety of the ads; it seems to always be the same few. I’m not sure if this is a matter of Facebook has defined my advertising profile too narrowly, or there simply aren’t as many advertisers out there as they make it out to be. I’ve gotten to the point where I systematically report any ad that is shown to me more than once.

    At the end of the day, I’ve all but given up on Facebook as a platform for sharing information other than personal information to the dozen people I interact with most. I have 146 FB friends, but a quick survey of my news feed shows just 10. Frankly, I might as well not have the other 136 for as much as I see them.

  9. Ralph Haygood says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 12:00 pm

    This is what I like least about Facebook: its continual, clumsy attempts to decide what is or isn’t interesting to me and my friends. Last summer, it was revealed that Facebook now uses “a machine-learning-based approach that takes into account about 100,000 factors” (http://bit.ly/KA2th6). Facebook’s engineers seemed to imagine we’d be impressed, but as I commented at the time, more factors just make the black box blacker, to the point that nobody, not even the engineers, really understands the algorithm anymore.

    Blogs followed through feeds (as I follow Open Culture) are much more comprehensible, but they generally don’t facilitate conversation as well as Facebook does (although Tumblr has made a decent try). I’m a software developer, and I’m currently developing a service meant to combine the comprehensibility of blogs and feeds with the conversationality of Facebook, among other advantages. It’s definitely something I want myself. We’ll see whether many other people want it too.

  10. Vault says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 12:23 pm

    I have over 1,200 friends & over 1,400 page likes & manage numerous pages & groups, the issue is with the ui as it’s not intuitive enough for most people as the options are there to see all posts or not as you choose, however if you use a mobile device & access Facebook via an app then what posts you get to see are limited by the app. to avoid this use a regular browser. There are plenty of guides online to help people understand Facebooks unfriendly ui, however most can’t be bothered to find out. If it bothers you that much I suggest you research this & inform your page followers/likers as to how to receive all your posts. I have done extensive testing & the tools in place do work, just not obvious as to how to use them.

  11. Ron Lankshear says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    Yes I agree about FB. Muller video was very excited I didn’t get to a bottom line on what to do?
    For you I prefer RSS feed and I’d like RSS for other FB Pages what I follow. a RSS Reader with brief headers in list is much easier than the verbose FB Pages list…

    Thinking about FB today it seems that following the left panel “notifiers” might be better than trying to scan through the main News Feed. Which first I sort into Most Recent as I can see the Default TOP is not what I want….

    However to use the left panel I need to ensure my Contacts that I want are listed in a Friends category

  12. Eileen Hale says . . . | January 21, 2014 / 5:30 pm

    @Vault: do you have any links for such guides?

  13. Lulu Peters says . . . | January 23, 2014 / 6:42 am

    Very accurate and unbelievebly smart perspective! I’ve noticed facebook is robbing me of the viewers and ‘likers’ of my page. I have a very active, largely viewed page, where I provide information on local restaurants, supermarket sales, etc, to a relatively concise but relevant group of people, but I can’t make any profit out of it. Facebook doesn’t think it’s worth giving me a chance to make some money as an incentive for creating interesting content. Worst, now facebook nearly demands that I pay them to advertise posts that people already liked and followed. Very good video. Congrats!

  14. Michael says . . . | January 23, 2014 / 7:01 am

    Agreed and well said! However, since I only use FB to connect with family and friends, I’m ok with missing out on the other content. This means that using it for business promotion is minimal, and I’m ok with that since I’m not using it for business promotion. If FB can show that they can make more money using the YouTube business model than they would be wise to implement that method.

  15. SASSAS says . . . | January 25, 2014 / 3:36 pm

    We think this is SUCH an important issue, especially for non profits like us, that we paid $10 to make sure it reached our 1847 followers. Except that FB refused to allow us to promote the post….

    “Your ad wasn’t approved because it uses Facebook logos, trademarks, or site terminology, such as “The Facebook”, “FacebookHigh”, “FBook”, “FB”, “Poke”, “Wall”, or other company graphics, logos, designs, or icons.

    Before resubmitting your ad, please visit the Help Center to learn more and see examples of ads that meet our guidelines.
    If you’ve read the guidelines in the Help Center and think your ad follows the rules and should have been approved, please let us know.”

    We’re giving it another try, pointing to this page instead of the video and limited the use of “FB” in our own commentary. We’ll let you know how that goes…

  16. Randy says . . . | February 22, 2014 / 6:56 pm

    Also if you get a feed reader with a long memory (such as Brief, or its spin-off Digest) then you can still come back next month and sift through old articles, like I’m doing.

    I refuse to use Facebook.
    Email is still one big toilet bowl of spam.

    But RSS is still clean. So far.

  17. William Morrison says . . . | April 2, 2014 / 6:13 pm

    Totally agree with your observation. So there is an enormous opportunity for a YouTube business modeled FB ? ( named something else.)

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