This will be the last blog post I link to on Facebook, at least for the foreseeable future. If you’re coming here to find out when I’ve posted*, I recommend you use the link on the blog itself to be notified by email whenever I post. You can also–at least for now–follow me on Twitter (@CaseyKarp).
* As part of your other Facebook usage, of course; I’m not quite egotistical enough to think following me is the only reason you’re on Facebook. On the other hand, if you are, drop me a note: I could use the positive reinforcement.
In addition, I will no longer be reading Facebook posts. No more likes, no more birthday greetings, and no more comments (though I will look for and respond to comments on this post for a few days).
Believe me, it’s got nothing to do with you, singularly or collectively. No, this is all about me. Because, as several people who know me will tell you, everything is all about me.
Okay, Facebook itself has a lot to do with my decision. And if you really want to spread the blame around, toss a bit at Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, who recently summed up much of what I’ve been thinking about Facebook.
I’m not going to follow his lead and delete my account, at least not yet. I’ll come back to that shortly.
Spoiler: my decision has little to do with the annoyance of having to link posts manually, except to the extent that the inability to link posts automatically is a symptom of the larger problem.
The bottom line here is literally that: Facebook is so focused on the bottom line that they’re incapable of admitting a mistake. Worse, even if they were to try to fix something, they’ve gotten so big and unwieldy they can’t possibly do it quickly or well. (Yes, the old oil tanker problem: if every course change costs you time and money, you had better get the course right the first time.) Facebook can’t change course on a dime. Hell, they’d be doing well to change course on a billion dimes.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that my Facebook account is, and has always been, in support of my writing. We’ve reached the point where at least as many people go to Facebook to look for someone as who go to Google or Bing, LinkedIn or Instagram, or any other search or interpersonal networking site, so if a writer wants to be found by his readers, he needs to be on Facebook.
Nor is it any secret that Facebook makes its money by selling information to advertisers. Not just who you follow, but which posts you read, what you Like or Hate, who you comment on, how long you spend on the site, and even how long it takes you to read a post.
And yes, Facebook limits what posts you see by how much the poster is willing to pay to get the posts in front of you.
Which is why the ability to automatically link blog posts went away. Facebook doesn’t want you leaving their site to come to mine, so they’re limiting my ability to lure you away, unless I pay them for the privilege.
Sure, there are ways to get around that, ways to see everything a particular person posts, but they’re clumsy, and not everyone knows about them.
Not only is this kind of silo not what the social internet* was created for, but if we can believe any of Facebook’s public history, it’s not what Facebook was created for either.
* The part of the internet used by the entire world to talk to each other, as opposed to the original, original internet intended to link military computers. (Gross oversimplification, I know. It’s a side-issue. Deal.)
I’ve decided that I’m not interested in being part of Facebook’s walled garden any more. I don’t want them making money by selling people advertising because they’ve chosen to follow me–or because I’ve chosen to follow them.
As I said, I’m not going to delete my account. If people are going to come to Facebook looking for me, I’m mercenary enough to want to be here to be found. But only to the extent necessary to direct them elsewhere.
Over the next few days, I’ll be unfollowing and unfriending everyone on Facebook. Don’t be offended: as I said, it’s not you, it’s me. And Facebook. If you want to do the same to me, please go ahead. Or if you would rather leave things as they are in the hope I’ll come back someday–and it could happen, although I agree with Dr. Plait that it’s unlikely–feel free. Your relationship with Facebook is your own business.
Hope to see you somewhere else.