SUMMARY: As long as advertisers throw money at Facebook there will never be an incentive for them to change their irresponsible behavior. Facebook has lied and distorted the truth time and time again but to them, it’s just another apology.
Vox recently reported “earlier this week, Facebook abruptly shut down the personal Facebook accounts and research tools of Edelson and two of her colleagues at the NYU Ad Observatory, which studies political advertisements and misinformation on the platform.” In response, the Federal Trade Commission publicly castigated Facebook or disabling researchers’ access to its social media platform and making “misleading claims” that it was doing so to comply with a privacy agreement with the US agency.
This is just another arrogant stance by a company that has continually shit on users and brands and has yet to be held accountable. In fact, when it comes to protecting users’ personal information and providing a safe online environment, social network users in the US give lower marks to Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. According to Insider Intelligence’s annual “US Digital Trust Survey,”
But yet we keep on using Facebook.
As of the end of 2020, organic reach is still on the decline. The average reach for an organic Facebook post is down to 5.2%. (For the record, at the end of 2019, it was 5.5%, and the year before that, it was 7.7%).
Meanwhile, the average engagement rate in 2020 for an organic Facebook post was 0.25%. That number drops to 0.08% for those of you with more than 100k followers.
The Facebook algorithm
The Facebook algorithm decides which posts people see every time they check their Facebook feed, and those posts show up. For its part, Facebook would like to remind us that there is no single algorithm, but rather “multiple layers of machine learning models and rankings,” built to predict which posts will be “most valuable and meaningful to an individual over the long term.”
In other words, instead of presenting every available Facebook post in chronological order, the Facebook algorithm evaluates every post, scores it, and then arranges it in descending order of interest for each user. This process happens every time a user—and there are 2.7 billion of them—refreshes their newsfeed.
The problem is that Facebook determines which posts you see on your feed and that Facebook’s algorithm is considered “top secret”. That’s one reason why the NYU researchers were kicked out of Facebook’s database.
Facebook has taken the position that social media should be an “open forum,” yet they’ll suspend your account for bullying if you call someone who believes that COVID is a hoax, a putz.
Ms. Sandberg was supposed to be the “voice of reason” within the company but has become the employee who apologizes. “Sheryl Sandberg Apologizes for Facebook Emotion Manipulation Study … Kind Of” (July 2014). “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg apologized for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal” (March 2018). “Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Tuesday the company needs to do more to protect its users from disinformation efforts, after researchers found Russian trolls attempted to suppress African-American voter turnout during the 2016 election” (November 2018). “Sheryl Sandberg gave an unconvincing speech about privacy just when she needed to sound sincere” (January 2019).
The number of lies and mistruths coming from Facebook has exceeded all rational beliefs that Facebook wants to change. As long as advertisers flock to Facebook and beg them to take their money and as long as people are addicted to Facebook, they will never have the motivation to change.
Advertisers need to get aggressive and hold Facebook accountable by looking elsewhere for media spends. Consumers are holding brands accountable for bad behaviors the same needs to be applied to Facebook.