A Facebook Scam?

Does Facebook limit which friends’ posts we see? Have they recently changed their algorithm so that now you only see posts from a tiny section of your friends? And will pasting the below statement on your Facebook account change who can see your posts?

Well…no. Recently, several of my Facebook friends have copied the following statement onto their page:

“Thank you for telling me how to do the bypass. This is good to know: It’s ridiculous to have over 400 friends and only some are allowed to see my post.
I ignored this post earlier, but It WORKS!! I have a whole new news feed. I’m seeing posts from people I haven’t seen in years. Here’s how to bypass the system FB now has in place that limits posts on your news feed.
Their new algorithm chooses the same few people – about 25 – who will read your posts. Therefore, hold down your finger down anywhere in this post and “copy” will pop up. Click “copy”. Then go your page, start a new post and put your finger anywhere in the blank field. “Paste” will pop up and click paste.
This will bypass the system.”

So, I asked Son-who-understands-IT if this was true. He assured me that yes, Facebook DO use an algorithm to decide how individual posts are shared – so even if I put a post (like this one) on my Fb page, the number of people who will see it varies, it is not automatically sent to all my Fb friends. Depending on how often my posts are shared/liked/read, will determine how widely they are shared. Which doesn’t seem a bad system. However, posting the above message will make no difference at all – apart from the fact that other people might like or share it, which means they are interacting with it, which means that Fb will then share it more widely. But the contents of the message makes no difference at all. A photo of a cute kitten would have the same result.

Now, I was disappointed to learn that there are not Evil Facebook Elves, who read all the posts and who decide which ones should be shared. Therefore all those messages about “Facebook have decided that this photo is inappropriate, so let’s all share it so everyone sees it” are, in fact, just cleverly marketed spam. It isn’t the Evil Facebook Elves who are deciding that there should be no photos of the Nativity shared at Christmas, for example, it’s a simple (well, okay, a complicated) algorithm, set by the computer, and it has no personal views at all.

Now, I ask, does this matter? Well, I have no idea who wrote the original “Share This” post, but they must, I assume, have a reason. Maybe they are lonely and they get a kick out of seeing it a million times on Facebook. Or perhaps they simply enjoy deceiving people. But it matters because it is becoming increasingly hard to know who to trust. Can we trust politicians, when we discover they will lie to win campaigns? Can we trust the newspapers, when the headlines are often destructive and bear no resemblance to truth? Can we trust the BBC? Social media? Our mothers? (Actually, I think we probably can trust our mothers.)
You get my point? There has been a horrible rise in misinformation recently (I am refusing to use the fashionable phrase for this, as I rather mistrust the person who has made it fashionable – you will know who I mean.)

So please, let’s stand up for things that are true. Let’s find people/reporters/leaders who are trustworthy – and let’s fight to stop this horrible tide of misinformation that seems to be growing.
If you like this post – please share it!

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
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