Calling a Facebook foul
I'm calling a Facebook foul. I'll let you be the judge. It has to do with the amount of traffic and metrics from Facebook to my blog. I can measure this because I have a Facebook page for my blog.
Before you check out because this sounds "geeky," here's why you should read on: censorship. You may have heard that many have claimed that social media monopolies such as Facebook and Twitter are intentionally screening or limiting (and even limiting the accounts) of those who disagree with their political and philosophical perspectives.
I wouldn't have thought it would apply to my little blog until I saw the numbers. I have taken the metrics of the past year of my blog on its Facebook page and drilled down.
June - Dec 2019
Dec 2018 - Mar 2019
Apr - May 2019
It started in April. My last post of "normal" impressions was a review I did of the CSB Christ Chronological Bible. Normally my posts on Facebook garner at least 400 impressions per post. I noticed in April that there were seven posts that didn't get above 50 impressions! That's never happened before.
So I broke it down over the past year:
June - Dec 2018, 12 articles: 432 avg impressions
Dec - March 2019, 12 articles: 474 avg
April - May 2019, 12 articles: 108 avg
7 articles under 50!
5 articles under 290!
May 2019, 5 articles: 128 avg
But that included one article that I had a $5 credit and PROMOTED. That one article got 524 impressions. Removing that from the mix:
4 articles: 29 avg
None over 50!
What does this mean?
I have no idea to be honest. It seems like it's empirical evidence that Facebook has turned off the spigot a few times on my blog recently. There was a brief period from April 26 - May 13 that posts were averaging over 200 impressions, though that's still much lower than normal. There's NO adequate explanation to me for posts to receive less than 50 impressions!
Of course, it could be:
I've offended 90% of the people who follow my blog on Facebook.
My writing has changed dramatically and even my mom isn't liking what I write any longer.
Those who normally follow my blog all had their computers and mobile devices break for the past month and a half so they couldn't visit my site from Facebook.
Or: Facebook changed its algorithm
In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced:
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other... As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Malicious or intentional change?
That's the question. If traffic numerics obviously decline equally for all sites, it's not an issue, but last year, there was growing concern that all traffic was not being influenced equally. This was confirmed by others who began noticing their traffic from Facebook to their blogs and sites began to change. Interestingly and anecdotally, it seemed to be mainly Christian and politically conservative sites that noticed the traffic change - some were hit very hard.
A study by Western Journal determined that Facebook’s algorithm change disproportionately impacted conservative sites.
It's not just Facebook.
Twitter and Google have both been guilty of sneaky tactics. Twitter has been caught actively suspending user of accounts of conservatives. This was overt in April when they suspended the user account for the pro-life movie Unplanned on its opening weekend. Google has been caught manipulating search results. In September 2018, Brad Parscale penned an editorial for USA Today titled Donald Trump is Right: More than Facebook & Twitter, Google threatens democracy, online freedom.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Google wasaccusedof manipulatingsearch resultsto favor Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Also, research at Harvard University found that Google’ssearch rankingsare not objective, and in 2017, the company wasfinedbillions of dollars by the European Union formanipulating search results.
What to do?
Until someone creates Facebook or Twitter alternatives, we are stuck. While I hate that it's harder to reach beyond a limited circle of influence with this little blog, I have no alternatives but to use Facebook and Twitter. Not using them would essentially be moving off the internet.
For those of you who just randomly read a few blogs, you probably feel so far removed and powerless to help. However, there's a few things you CAN do. If you are on Facebook or Twitter:
Don't just "like" a post. Share it. That's the main way to bypass Facebook's algorithms. When you share a post and leave a brief comment on it, Facebook treats that as "conversation" and it allows your friendship circle to see it. No longer does just "liking" a post help others see it as well.
Read blogs and leave comments. Blogs are a way for the underdog to take back the internet. Don't allow Facebook or Twitter or Google to curate your content. Use Feedly or Wordpress or some other website/app to track a few good blogs (I hope journeyguy.com makes your list), and reward the blogger by leaving regular comments. Interact. Don't just spectate. It encourages the author and lets them know their keyboard pecking makes a difference. It also encourages real journalism from ordinary citizens.
Balance your news intake. No longer can we believe what the MSM serves us. Intentionally read opposing viewpoints and then reach your own informed, discerning conclusion. Some of the best news is coming from independent sites these days. Get familiar with conservative and liberal sites and read. Think for yourself. It's one of the best uses for Twitter. I have a list of "News Shapers" that contains leading influencers from a variety of views in order to have a broader perspective.
It Isn’t Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals - Quillette, 2/12/2019
A June 2018 Pew poll found that 72% of Americans believe that social media companies censor views they don’t like, with members of the public being four times more likely to report a belief that such institutions favor liberals over conservatives than the opposite.
Is It Time to Regulate Social Media? - Quillette, 9/13/2019
Conservatives are furious over Facebook’s algorithm change - Salon, 3/29/2018
"More than 30 former journalists now serve in the Obama administration – nothing comparable happens in G.O.P. administrations." - New York Times op-ed, 11/11/2015
Check out the Media Research Center and if you have 4 minutes, watch this helpful video documenting liberal media bias.