Facebook and The Art of Extortion

When Facebook first forced Timeline down the throats of bands and brands, they implied that those of us who whined about the obvious and immediate decrease in activity/views of our posts and content should be wearing tinfoil hats and watching the Zapruder Film frame by frame. They implied that we were manufacturing a conspiracy, that we were being foolish and over-sensitive, and even went so far as to say that the implementation of Timeline was actually going to boost our interactions with fans in the big picture.
The only thing besides a basic sense of business intuition that I had to cite as a reason not to believe what I was being told, was observation. When the Facebook page for The High Cell was switched over to Timeline, it seemed obvious to me that not nearly as many people were seeing my posts on any given day. It was as plain as the nose on the fat face that is connected to the turkey neck that sits right above my fairly bulbous torso, that less people were seeing my content regardless of the day or time it was posted. I also noticed that I wasn’t seeing as many posts from all of the bands/brands that I follow on my personal page.
I remember reading rumors and grumblings about Facebook planning to offer a “pay-for-views” model as a financial strategy after the bad taste of mandatory Timeline died down, and I recall making a comment to this effect ; “So Facebook is now going to let less of my fans see my posts, and then offer me the opportunity to pay so more fans can see my posts? I’ve never been extorted before, a big thanks to Facebook for this experience!” . And still, Facebook stayed steadfast in their proclamation that they were not going to be hijacking the views of page posts in order to make money.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I posted yet another marginally impertinent observation that managed somehow to be both void of humor and also lack any relevance to anyone on the planet (which, if you’re familiar with my Facebook page, is how I tend to roll). After posting it, there was a little nondescript pop-up that appeared that said “welcome to post promotion” or something along those lines. It’s finally here. They’ve come clean and thrown it out there with no fanfare and as little public acknowledgement as possible. The good thing about this is that the case is now officially closed, and I can go back to pinning JFK’s assassination on Ringo Starr and proving that the popularity of ‘Jersey Shore’ is an attempt to brainwash society, perpetrated collectively by the members of the Bohemian Grove Club.
The bad thing, is that I’m disappointed by the sheer transparency of what they’re doing, as well as the lack of concern from the people who are affected by it. Not long after my most recent post was made, a little percentage symbol appeared on the bottom of it. “7%”, it says. After investigating this curious little number with my trusty mouse, Facebook was kind enough to let me know that this was the percentage of fans of The High Cell who saw this post, and it then offered me an opportunity to pay for more to see it. So my cynical question remains the same. Was this the number of people who saw it, or was this the number of people who were allowed to see it before it got sling-shotted down their home page?

I’m sure statistics could show that only 7% of the fans are even remotely interested in or entertained by my Facebook posts anyway. But I want people to have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they fit into that percentage or not, before Facebook buries the posts in a shallow grave on the side of this information super-highway if I don’t pay up.

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