04.30.12

Divesting yourself of Facebook world-of-suck

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:08 pm by George Smith

The whole purpose of Facebook is to supersede the world of the open web and replace it with a fenced place, immune to search and value, maximized for user churn to be presented as marketing data to clients. It really doesn’t matter what the user churn is. And to that end Facebook has made algorithms that virtually guarantee the suck, or excrement, is at the top, the middle and the bottom of your feed. All the time.

It does it through a combination of things. One of these is a ranking system that hides Facebook posts in your feed.

On Facebook, users gather ‘friends’ willy-nilly. For most, it’s counter-productive, although Facebook hides it rather cleverly. As you gather ‘friends’ you’ll invariably pick up those who view the social-networking system as a way to an audience. They’re not interested in interaction. They’re interested in you sharing their stuff and that stuff is always taken from somewhere else because it’s easier to scrape content than make it.

They’re better viewed as micro-blog spam ‘bots masquerading as people.

And they have firmly grasped the idea that the way to optimize this is to post as much as possible to their wall, which Facebook also adds to the conglomerated feed you see when you log on.

Providing content takes work and time. To make the most of the opportunity to stuff the Facebook feed, users quickly adopted that process which takes the least work but which offers the most ‘stuff’ and potential return in ‘likes’ for least effort per post. And that’s the picture meme.

You have also discovered that commenting in anything longer than one or two sentences has no value. As soon as you do, Facebook hides it and shows only “read more.”

Guess what? No one “reads more.” This revises TL — DNR, the net contraction for “too long — did not read” even further downward. On Facebook, one sentence is best, or a fragment, something like “TL — DNR.”

And try to be the last person in the discussion before it peters out. Because Facebook will hide everything above it, possibly more tendentious and thought-provoking, quickly and efficiently.

So you now have discovered that your custom feed is swamped by people publishing captioned-pictures and the same web articles from whatever their favorite political sites are as fast as they can. They are accompanied by exhortations to ‘share’ and ‘like’ because Facebook’s algorithms assign value to both.

In conjunction with the hiding feature it combines to disappear what many ‘friends’ in your list are actually doing. If you actually know them in the real world because they were the first ‘friends’ you acquired on Facebook, you may wonder why you never see anything from them,

And then be surprised they actually have been posting things of interest to you on their wall when you visit them directly.

That is because the promotion of the audience hounds and picture spammers by Facebook’s ranking scheme have erased them from your world.

When you muster the effort to finally start pruning your bloated ‘friends’ list you’ll seem them reappear.

Maybe you don’t want them to.

Because, in reading this, you recognize yourself as one of the daily feed stuffers, logging on just before or after work, letting your world know that you’ve digested the best of the web’s liberal or extremist writings. Along with the 100 other people doing the same thing as fast they can peddle it in your 200-plus size ‘friends’ list.

As you divest yourself of the panderers — and the numerous postings of the alleged gnomic sayings of old famous leaders made before the poster was born, the shared purloined and allegedly pointed bromides and putdowns plastered on the pix of current politicians, the thousands of photos of cozy animals cuddling, the friend you see twice a week for drinks, who you thought had stopped having anything to do with Facebook, is revealed as having never gone away.

In other words, if you have an expanding list of ‘friends’, unless you’re a celebrity and don’t need it anyway except as a sop to your minders and people in entertainment journalism, Facebook is playing you for a chump.

Most people can’t bear to hear this. It suggests to them they’ve enlisted in a culture and social network that is optimized to reward lickspittles and then, only very cheaply. Deep down they know having a couple hundred or more ‘friends’ on Facebook is worthless and that they’re being cheated of something. But they don’t know precisely how or why.

7 Comments

  1. Chuck said,

    April 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Quizzing a few random friends on why Facebook’s corporate worth is so great, it’s amazing now few have any grasp of the reason why.

    If Facebook were prohibited from mining participants’ data, it would be a financial disaster, something on the order of Webvan.

    Participants don’t seem to understand that Facebook’s value is that they’re being freely spied upon.

    Another chip out of what we used to know as “right to privacy”.

    I don’t do FB or Twitter. Call me a Luddite.

  2. A said,

    April 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    You only need to look at the 3 board of directors on FB. Mark Fukerburg is just a patsy, a face to be used and abused on the media outlets. The real backers are the other 2 board members. When looking more deeply you will drop this shady political network used for sheep migration. Its easy to move sheep and get them to do want you want as long as their friends do the same. Its easy to use bots in this network and manipulate the masses for the worst intentions.

    Sad to say the generation of kids using this have less social skills, yet they use a social network. Should be called dummy network, or sheep network.

    Its easy to understand the rumors when you look at the facts. Children nowadays are rulled by videos games, which when looked at outside of the box, is just a maze with only one outcome. Sort of like a rat in a cage training how to run through the maze, yet kids devote countless hours of life training this oneway thinking. Scary what the world will look like and even if the kids of the future will even speak a word of intelligence.

    Seems we might be the last hope…

  3. Christoph Hechl said,

    April 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Well this isn’t an “end-is-nigh” thing. Although i personally despise all the not-actually-social networks, i am uncertain about their importance.
    Eventually all these networks will die because too much spam/malware is being spread and the cost to have someone disinfect yout PC for you becomes too high.
    The high profile content producers leave and the network gets the attribute of only being for the simpleminded which in my opinion is the current phase. The downward spiral has already begun and fortunately i don’t see how it can be stopped.
    I hope that enough people learn from this, that they could almost as easy have created a web presence of their own, where they have full control over their data and can generate content, that actually belongs to them.
    I think that only a decentralised network can truly become “social”. It would only be a question of standardising the way different kinds of sites link themselves to each other, like a hugely expanded .rss-feed, and all the centralised networks would become obsolete.
    Well at least i hope for it.

    Here is my favorite depiction of that big SN:
    http://i.eatliver.com/2011/7775.jpg

  4. Chuck said,

    May 1, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Christoph–good one!

  5. Edgar said,

    May 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Anyone remember Myspace?

  6. George Smith said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Yes, it’s still around. A lot of the musical pop groups on Facebook still have their old MySpace pages. It’s just that nobody counts them as a social network anymore. What a pity.

  7. kristin mak said,

    May 7, 2012 at 2:29 am

    I remember myspace- it’s mocked relentlessly (MYspace? Ugh!) it’s also more difficult and less likely to be mined, coincidentally. It wasn’t broken- there was no need to toss it out.