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:
Why not sign up to follow today?

Facebook for the Over Fifties

I am relatively new to Facebook, first starting to use it in 2014. Since then, I have been amazed at the potential for error. Facebook has its own, unwritten rules, which everyone under the age of forty seems to be fully aware of, and everyone older struggles to grasp. I thought I would tell you what I have learned so far, but first, here is a post I wrote soon after starting:

A Facebook Lesson

I had cycled down to visit my mother. We sat on her sofa, slurping tea, when Mum said she could not see any of my photographs on Facebook. We spent some time looking at her computer (which is actually an ipad my brother lent her) but neither of us could work out what the problem was. Then she asked me why I never send her messages on Facebook. I explained that I would much rather use email, because I don’t really know what I’m doing and I might send them to the wrong place.

“Oh!” she said, “It’s easy, I’ll show you. Look, Ruth has posted a picture of chocolate, I’ll just send her the message ‘Ha,Ha,Ha’!” She did.

Then she realised that actually, she had not sent the message to Ruth. She had sent the message to somebody’s prayer request on one of her religious sites. All the other posts were things like, “I feel for you,” or, “God bless you in this time of need,” – then there was Mary Thompson: “Ha,Ha,Ha!” We couldn’t stop laughing. It was so funny and of course, neither of us had the first idea if it was possible to ‘unsend’ a message once it was sent. We laughed for ages, but it did rather illustrate my point…


Now, I have moved on a little from those early days. I do now use Facebook messenger. But there is much to learn along the way.

Such as: LOL does not stand for “Lots of Love.” It stands for “Laugh out Loud” and is therefore inappropriate to use as a comment when your daughter has shared bad news with you.

It is possible to change your privacy settings (which are found behind the little emblem that looks like a globe). If they are set to ‘only me’, then no one at all can see your posts/photos. So you might as well not bother, and write a diary instead.

People who send you a friendship request are not necessarily people who you once knew but seem to have forgotten. They are possibly complete strangers, collecting friends for a false identity, and should be avoided. Even people who are not your friends on Facebook can see everything you post on a public setting, so some things should be set for family or friends only. And be careful to notice if you are posting something on your timeline (which everyone can see) or in a private message. You can get into a lot of trouble if you get those in a muddle.

When your children post lots of photographs after a party/ holiday/event you didn’t attend; it is not polite to ‘like’ every single one. They find it annoying. In fact, if you weren’t at the event, they probably don’t mean for you to respond at all – and certainly writing a comment is very frowned upon. (Actually, writing comments on your children’s posts or their friends is usually the wrong thing to do. Even though you have changed Robbie’s nappies and watched him grow up; now he has a beard and a girlfriend, he does not necessarily want to be reminded of the time he spilt orange juice on your sofa. Best to just observe and keep quiet, I have found.)

Your children probably share things with their friends that we would’ve chatted about in our rooms, when our parents weren’t there. They are not necessarily things you want to see/hear, so it might be better to ask your child to change their settings so you have ‘restricted’ viewing. I find I really do not need to know everything tiny detail about my children – I like to pretend they are nice.

Humour on Facebook is a bit dangerous. It is possible to write something very funny, or slightly sarcastic, and people unexpectedly take offence. Or didn’t realise you were being ironic, and respond to your “as Doctor Who is now a woman, should we call her Nurse Who?” joke with worried comments about your attitude to women. Really, I have got this wrong so often, it’s just not worth posting. A joke gone wrong can attract a lot of hate mail. Sometimes I can’t resist, but it’s usually a disaster, and once it’s ‘out there’ there is no way to make people unsee it.

Then there are the angry Facebookers. People who are lovely, polite, calm people in real life, turn into rude protestors on social media. You mustn’t take their comments personally, and if you dislike what they say, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ them rather than lose their friendship.

As I learn more ‘rules’ I will let you know. Good luck! Oh, and do remember everyone can see what you post – someone I know (not me this time) said how disappointed she was when her niece got engaged because she preferred the old boyfriend. She didn’t realise that people other than her niece would see the comment. Oops!


  Anne E. Thompson is the author of several books. You can follow her blog at: anneethompson.com

Look out for her books on Amazon and in bookshops – who do you know that would like one for Christmas?

JOANNA – the story of a psychopath, an easy read gritty novel, that shows the reader how a psychopath thinks, and also how her actions impact her family. Because every psychopath has a mother – and how must that feel?


Letters to a Sister : 25

Is social media the new road rage? Do you ever feel a bit insulted by what your friends post?

I am often a bit shocked by being called rude names by my friends on social media and I wonder if it is a little like ‘road rage’. Now, I will admit, I often talk to other drivers when I am driving. I shout things like, “Hurry up, this is a 50 zone,” or “Get off my tail, idiot, you’ll hit me if a deer runs out.” However, I would not dream of saying those things if the other driver could hear me. Well, maybe the last one I might, but I would make it slightly more polite.

However, on social media, people often share links that are even more insulting. I read phrases like, “the morons who continue this game” (yes, that’s me) or “the selfish idiots who voted for that political party” (oh, sorry, I made the best choice I could given the information at hand) or “the self-absorbed murderers who support killing animals” (hmmm, I might fit into that category too given the topic it was discussing.) The difference to social media though, is that the people who are being insulted (me) can actually hear. And when I read some of these insults, I do actually find it a little upsetting.

The rational part of me knows that the person ‘sharing’ these posts would never dream of saying these things to my face. They are for the most part polite, caring people. Some of them are, I believe, even fond of me. However, when I read these posts, I am still a little shocked. It can feel like a smack in the face, especially if I have logged on for a quick look before breakfast, a bit of mindless entertainment before my brain is in gear.

Now, I know that people will disagree on things. We do not all share the same politics or religious view and social media is a good way to express our thoughts, to perhaps have a rant about something we are passionate about. But I wish people would keep the reader in mind. We write because we expect, we hope, someone out there will read what we write. I do not think we usually intend to bash them over the head with a stick. There are nice ways of saying things. We can be fervent about our views without necessarily calling the other people idiots, without punching the nose of anyone who disagrees with us.

I do understand that when making an emotive argument, one technique is to exaggerate. I do realise that the people who write these things are making a case rather than actually expressing hate for the people who oppose them. However, I think sometimes this has been taken to extremes and is over used. Perhaps we have lost a little caution with what we post.

The trouble with social media is that it is so easy. You can read something, have an emotional reaction and fire off a quick reply in seconds. I have done it myself. I once wrote a reply to something as an emotional response, reread it and realised it sounded terribly rude, then spent an awful few minutes trying to work out how to delete it. I was lucky, the recipient never read it.

I also get things wrong sometimes when writing. I tend to let my family read things before I publish them (they seem to enjoy letting me know when I have got something wrong.) Sometimes they tell me to not publish something, they tell me it sounds racist or insulting or whatever, even though they know that that was not my intention. It is hard to self-moderate.

Of course, people in the media receive the most awful comments all the time. Is this okay? Should journalists write things for public viewing that they would never say to the person’s face? I don’t think so. Take Jeremy Corbyn (the one who looks like everyone’s favourite uncle.) Now, I disagree with almost everything I have read about his politics. But do I also want to criticise his dress sense? Do I care how he chooses to wear his hair? To me, that just seems bitchy and unnecessary. It also undermines the arguments of the author, reminds me of name-calling from the primary school playground.

As social media grows, as it replaces the village green where people meet for a chat, I think we need to be increasingly careful. We humans are fragile beings. What we read is what we hear and no one likes to be told they are stupid. Even if they are.


Thanks for reading…..

If you enjoyed this, why not sign up to follow my blog?
Then you will receive all my posts by email (usually two per week.)