7 Facebook Habits You Should Adopt In 2015


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Everyone loves to complain about Facebook, but there are things we can all do to make it better. Here are 7 habits you should adopt in 2015 to make Facebook better.

1. Stop Liking Everything

facebook_thumbEvery time you click Like, it gives Facebook a little more information about you and what you find valuable. The problem is, you don’t know exactly how Facebook interprets your likes or what impact it has on what you see (or don’t see) in your News Feed. In a previous blog post, I described What Happens If You Like Everything On Facebook. The results are not so good. Stop liking so many things, and save it for the stuff you really, really Like.

2. Stop Writing On Friends’ Walls

When you write on someone’s Wall, it’s visible to mutual friends and possibly the whole world, depending on their privacy settings. It frequently even shows up in other peoples’ News Feed! If you want to send someone a message, then send them a personal Message. Or an email. Or call them. Usually when people write on friends’ walls it’s to pretend to say something personal, but it’s really to say something to everyone else. It’s often a subtle way of showing off.

Amy Jones –> Mary Johnson: “Oh, the party last night was amazing! Thanks for the invite!”
Translation: “Look everyone, I got invited to this party, and it was amazing! See how cool I am?””

Stop doing that.

3. Turn Off Push Notifications On Your Phone

imageTrust me, it’s better. You don’t need to be interrupted whenever someone clicks Like on your post or if you receive a new comment. It just sucks you into the Facebook black hole even further, and ends up wasting more of your time. Check Facebook when you have time, and look at your notifications then. Follow Facebook’s instructions to disable push notifications.

4. Post Things People Want To See, Not What You Want To Show Them

This is kind of a mindset change, and I think the quality of the content on Facebook would improve if everyone followed it. Instead of Facebook being a vanity show where everyone shows off, treat it like you’re a publisher and your friends are your customers. You should post things that others would genuinely be interested in seeing, rather than what you want them to see. They will value your posts more and feel like you are making their Facebook experience better. Before posting, ask yourself, “Who will be really interested in seeing this? Who will really like this?” If there is no genuine audience for the post, then you’re probably just self-promoting.

5. Check Your “Other” Inbox

imageDid you know that you may be receiving personal messages that you never see? Maybe a long-lost friend found you on Facebook and wants to say hi or verify that you’re the right person before requesting to be friends. But Facebook hides these messages from you, tucked away in an “Other” Inbox, and never notifies you that they are there. CNet even wrote an article about this: Find overlooked messages in Facebook's 'Other' inbox

You should check your “Other” inbox every so often, just to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Chances are, there will be junk mail or spam in there, if anything. But you never know. I have known people to rekindle old friendships that they would have missed if they hadn’t checked their Other inbox.

6. Verify Information Before Sharing

http://www.snopes.com/images/template/snopeslogo.gifPlease stop clicking “Share” on every post that tugs at your heartstrings, or every post that promises a free Disney vacation. They are very often not true. And before sharing that missing child photo or missing dog photo, do a little homework. For example, I’ve seen this photo (from 2013!) shared many times, but Snopes clearly says he was found. In fact, the original photo was posted after he was actually found! No one should be sharing it! Here are some ways to verify posts before re-sharing it:

  • Go to Snopes.com and do a quick search. They have detailed information on many hoaxes, myths, fake missing persons reports, etc.
  • Click through to the original post and read the comments. Quite often on missing pet photos, for example, there will be a comment that says “Found, thanks!”. So there is no need to re-share it.
  • Check the date of the original post. If it’s a missing cat photo from 3 years ago, you can safely bet that you don’t need to share it. These posts keep getting shared for years by people with good intentions, but it isn’t necessary.
  • If it’s a contest, check the authenticity of the Page that posted it. If it’s a company like Disney, but the Page has only 400 Likes? That’s a clear indicator that it’s fake. Check the comments. Are people pointing out that the contest is fake? Are there multiple Page posts that are just pure contests? Probably fake.
  • Be critical of the wording. If the post says “50 winners will be chosen tomorrow!” then you can guarantee it’s fake. Real contests use exact dates, give detailed information, and will never require that you Share a post to enter. There are rules that Pages must follow to post contests to Facebook, so “sloppy” looking contests are almost always fake.

7. Stop Trying To Convince People That You’re Awesome. Just Be Awesome.

imageIn our new world of Social Media, many people feel the need to market themselves. Brand themselves. Create an identity and shape the world’s view of themselves. But this gets old really fast, and people are tired of it. Be genuine. Stop trying to convince people that you are a certain kind of person, and just be that person. When you post something, ask yourself, “Am I doing this so people will think of me in a certain way? Am I trying to reinforce the brand that I want people to see?” If so, then don’t post it. Instead, just be a genuine person and let your passions come through. Focus on being the person you want to be, rather than trying to convince everyone that you are that person.

Happy New Year!

I hope some of these tips will make you think or help you use Facebook in a little better way in 2015. Facebook is sure to introduce lots of new things in the coming year that will surprise and frustrate us. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

Bonus #8: Use Social Fixer, the free browser extension that improves Facebook by adding features and fixing annoyances to make it more fun and efficient. Smile 

-- Matt Kruse

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Social Fixer 12.0: Comment button, image previews, and more


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logo_detailed_20053_thumbVersion 12.0 restores the “Submit Comment” button, adds Ctrl+Enter as a way to submit comments, fixes most image previews when hovering, and more.

download5523

Install the 12.0 update from SocialFixer.com

What's Fixed / Changed

  • Submitting comments is now better than ever! This update adds a “Submit comment” button you can click to post comments. You can also (optionally) use Ctrl+enter to submit, and Tab+Enter still works too.
    image
  • Image previews when hovering over thumbnails and profile pictures now works in most cases.
    • https://fbstatic-a.akamaihd.net/rsrc.php/v2/yo/r/UlIqmHJn-SK.gifSecurity settings may cause some profile pictures to appear as the default FB Pic.
    • In some cases, image previews still don’t work, but I’m working on it.
  • Fixed the Messages dropdown so clicking a message doesn't open it in the chat window
  • Fixed the hiding of user information popup when hovering over user names

What’s Removed

  • I disabled the comment “reply” feature completely until I can fix it. It is broken because of major code changes in the internals of Facebook. So far I haven’t been able to make it work with their new code.
  • Removed the Social Fixer News link and subscription. Facebook removed my list with over 2.4 million subscribers, without an explanation or even notifying me! My emails to them about this have gone unanswered. This is extremely frustrating.
  • Removed the "Automatically expand "SHOW X SIMILAR POSTS" links" option because it no longer applies and doesn’t do anything.

Questions? Problems? Need Support?

The Support Team and the Social Fixer user community can help you out in the Social Fixer Support Group, located here: http://SocialFixer.com/support/

Please, Donate to support development!

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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Social Fixer 11.2: Bug Fixes, Missed Stories, Font Options


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logo_detailed_20053_thumbVersion 11.2 is a minor patch update that squashes a few bugs, fixes a few more annoyances, and adds a few new user-requested features. 

download5523
Install the 11.2 update by going to SocialFixer.com

What's New

  • New Option [Layout Tab]: Add a link to "Missed Stories" in the left side navigation. (This was a user request). This is a Facebook feature that not everyone knows about, that shows you stories that may not have appeared in your News Feed. It is enabled by default, but you can remove it by hovering over it and click the “x” that appears.
  • New Option [Display Tab]: Change the default font to whatever you choose. Enter a valid font name and everything on Facebook should change. (This was a user request).
  • The Events section in left side navigation can now be hidden by hovering and clicking the “x” in the upper right.
  • New Option [Advanced Tab]: "Use MutationObserver to watch for inserted content". If you are experiencing performance problems or your browser is locking up, you can try enabling this option to see if it helps. It just uses a different way to detect new content added to the page by Facebook. I haven’t yet figured out why this method works much better for only some users.

What's Fixed / Changed

  • In some cases Top Stories mode was incorrectly identified, switching users to Most Recent in error.
  • The “Reply” link added to comments by Social Fixer now works more consistently and correctly and won’t be added if Facebook’s built-in Reply link is already there.
  • Image preview was showing when viewing pictures in the "lighbox" popup, making it difficult to tag friends. (This was a user request).
  • Reorganized the Options for post processing, action icons, control panel, etc in the "Posts" tab.

Important Notes

Here are some notes to address user comments, questions, and concerns:

  • Uploaded animated gifs never animate - only posted links to gifs with previews will animate. This is not a problem, and can't be fixed because Facebook automatically converts uploaded gif files to jpg which removes the animation.
  • Using Tab –> Enter to submit comments fails for some users intermittently. Facebook is testing new code for its comment box, and I need to update my code to be compatible with it. I’m aware of the problem and will work on this.
  • For some users, clicking the Home link when on one of their Pages causes an infinite reload loop. I haven't yet been able to identify the root cause of this or reproduce it myself.
  • If Events is in your Favorites in the left column and you hide it using Social Fixer's "x", a blank space is left. This isn't a problem I will address, because if you don't want it in Favorites you can just remove it from Favorites!
  • Safari 7.1 has some issues with extensions, and users may think Social Fixer won't install. This is a Safari issue, and it usually works if you remove the extension, reboot, then install it again.

Questions? Problems? Need Support?

The Support Team and the Social Fixer user community can help you out in the Social Fixer Support Group, located here: http://SocialFixer.com/support/

Please, Donate to support development!

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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Social Fixer 11.0: Bug Fixes + Animated Gifs In News Feed


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logo_detailed_20053Version 11 of Social Fixer fixes a number of bugs, including problems in Firefox 32, some things not hiding, etc. It also adds support for animated GIFs on Facebook! 

download552
Install the 11.0 update by going to SocialFixer.com

What's New

  • Animated GIF support! These are animated graphics, commonly used on many sites like Reddit to express reactions to posts and comments. Facebook doesn’t show them as moving images – just a still frame. Social Fixer now has an option (in the “Popular” tab) that enables the animation on these types of images, so they appear moving right in your news feed and in comments.

What's Fixed

  • Firefox32 problems with themes, Guided Setup, etc.
  • Auto-switch to Most Recent view of the news feed.
  • Some items in the left column and panels in the right column were no longer hiding if marked as hidden.
  • Full timestamps on posts
  • Some Chat options stopped working. The “compact” view has been fixed.
  • Always lock the blue bar at the top of the page, regardless of page size
  • Items in the “My …” boxes in the left column now display correctly

Options That Have Been Removed

Due to changes in Facebook’s code, sometimes it’s no longer possible for me to offer some options. And in some cases, their code changes have broken my features enough that I haven’t had time to figure out how to fix them. So, sometimes options have to be removed. Here is a list of options that I have removed in this release.

  • [Popular] Hide "Trending Articles" and "Trending Videos"
  • [Layout] Expand "Messages" to show the "Other" folder unread count
  • [Layout] Add “My Friends” and Blocked Friends & Apps” links to left navigation
  • [Layout] Show all available sections in the left navigation bar
  • [Posts] Prevent external link redirection
  • [Chat] Show all online friends in chat list
  • [Chat] Change profile images in Chat conversation windows to friend names
  • [Chat] Group friends by online status
  • [Timeline] Display posts in a single column

Questions? Problems? Need Support?

The Support Team and the Social Fixer user community can help you out in the Social Fixer Support Group, located here: http://SocialFixer.com/support/

Please, Donate to support development!

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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What If Television Was Like Facebook? How Bad Would It Be?


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telebook

What if Television worked the way Facebook does? Let’s call it “Telebook” - what would Telebook be like? Maybe thinking about it this way will give you a new perspective on how Facebook is (or isn't) working for you...

Welcome To Telebook

  • Telebook isn't the only TV broadcaster, but the others have almost no shows. Everyone watches Telebook, simply because everyone ELSE watches Telebook. No one really knows why, and everyone keeps saying they are going to stop. But they don’t. 
  • When you turn on the TV, you are presented with shows to watch. These shows seem to be things you’ve asked for and are interested in. But wait…
  • 1984You can’t pick exactly which shows you want to watch. Instead, you tell Telebook what shows and topics you Like, and it decides which episodes you get to see.
  • Every time you turn on the TV, Telebook will start showing you popular shows. Some of the shows may be from last week, and you have probably already watched them. If you change the channel to watch the shows that you want to see and are on right now, Telebook will let you (if you can find the remote control button they keep moving). But it will secretly change the channel back to the “Top Shows” when you aren’t looking.
  • If you try to tell Telebook that you really like a show and you want to see all its new episodes, it will ignore you and pick which episodes it thinks you will like most. It will just show you those instead. It might also show you episodes that your friends liked, instead of the ones you asked for. In fact, every few minutes there is a commercial telling you which shows your friends watched. You can’t fast forward.
  • Even if you love a show and ask to see it, if you don’t leave reviews on episodes you watch, Telebook will decide you don’t actually like it very much and stop showing it to you as often.
  • If lots of people love a show and want to watch every episode, Telebook will still only show new episodes to a small fraction of the interested audience. If the show’s producers want their audience to see it, they will need to pay Telebook money. Then it might be seen by a slightly higher fraction of the interested audience. Reaching everyone who wants to see your episodes costs a lot of money.
  • tv_barsIf Telebook thinks some kinds of shows are stupid or annoying, it will stop showing them, even if people ask to see them. It will never tell you how it decides what is stupid or annoying.
  • Cameras will be mounted on top of all TV’s to watch every move you make while watching a show. Telebook will read your facial expressions and may decide that you don’t really like a show, even if you say you do, and then stop showing it to you. It might show you shows about Yoga if you sit with your legs crossed. You’ll never know why it thinks you like Yoga, and there is no way to tell it you don’t like Yoga. Every time you watch Telebook, it is watching you.
  • In between the shows you asked for, other shows you didn’t ask for will also be shown. They will look similar to the shows you like, but you’ll realize that they aren’t what you asked for and they aren’t interesting to you. Even if you tell Telebook that you don’t want to see them, they will show them to you anyway.
  • facebook_remoteTelebook will change the layout of the remote control every 2 weeks. Sometimes buttons will just disappear, and you won’t be able to figure out how to change the channel. Sometimes buttons will change color or be rearranged. Sometimes new buttons will appear and you will have no idea what they do. Telebook will say nothing about these changes. You’ll get used to it.
  • Everyone would hate how this system works and be very vocal about it, but Telebook will never let you simply watch all the shows you want to. But everyone will keep watching Telebook anyway. Because that’s where all the shows are. Or at least the ones they let you see.

Now… is that a service you would be excited to use?

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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What Happens If You “Like” EVERYTHING On Facebook? This.


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facebook_thumb

In a post on Wired’s Gadget Lab, Mat Honen describes what happened when he clicked “Like” on literally everything he saw on Facebook for 48 hours. The results are interesting. I’ll share some of his observations, and a few of my thoughts.

Be sure to read the original post.

Highlights From The Article

  • “My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time… there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.”
  • “content mills rose to the top. Nearly my entire feed was given over to Upworthy and the Huffington Post.”
  • About the format many Pages use when posting: “It is a very specific form of Facebook messaging, designed to get you to interact. And if you take the bait, you’ll be shown it ad nauseam.”
  • “It reminded me of what can go wrong in society, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other. We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves
  • “While I expected that what I saw might change, what I never expected was the impact my behavior would have on my friends’ feeds … I heard from numerous people that my weirdo activity had been overrunning their feeds.
  • “By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked.”

My Thoughts

Obviously, this is kind of a ridiculous experiment. If you give an algorithm random, garbage data, you are going to get random, garbage output. You might get the same results if you buy 1,000 random products on Amazon and then look at its recommendations. Nevertheless, this does remind us of a few things and gives us some things to think about:

  • The News Feed algorithm is not under your control, even though your actions influence it. And everyone seems to agree that it is horrible at its job. Yet Facebook, for some reason, continues to force it on us.
  • Facebook’s primary focus is increasing exposure of ads and paid content. This extreme experiment shows what Facebook does when you give it lots of data points – it finds a lot more paid content to show you! Brands win, not people. Under normal user activity, this is not so blatant and obvious. But it is definitely happening. Every data point you give Facebook is used by them to show you more advertising and sponsored content.
  • By “Liking” things and interacting with posts, you nudge Facebook to show you more like it. So you create a feedback loop, where you aren’t exposed to content outside of a narrow band of things Facebook thinks you will like. You may be reinforcing your own biases, beliefs, or habits and not even realize it. Is this good?
  • Interacting with Page content leads to more garbage. The marketers who are gaming the system by making posts that ask questions or polarize readers and spark reactions get pushed higher by the algorithm. Facebook thinks engagement (Like, Comment, Share) is a valid measure of quality, when in fact it’s often the opposite.
  • By interacting with lots of public content, you are potentially spamming your friends’ feeds with posts about everything you do. This can be very annoying, and may lead to you being hidden by the people you actually care most about.

Conclusions

Here are a few suggestions as take-aways from this whole thing:

  • Avoid clicking Like, Comment, or Share on public posts by Pages unless you really value the content. Do so sparingly. Just because you like something doesn’t mean you have to click Like.
  • Don’t reward manipulative posting styles by interacting with them. You may see many posts using a format like this: “THIS SENTENCE SAYS SOMETHING CONTROVERSIAL! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?” These posts are “engagement-bait” and the only purpose is to incite a reaction and prompt engagement, which will make their content more visible to everyone. Do not reward this kind of manipulative content. Do not engage with it.
  • Expose yourself to a variety of opinions. Don’t let Facebook’s skewed news feed algorithm only expose you to opinions that are in line with yours. You will be missing out on a lot.
  • Use Social Fixer to hide content, tab posts, hide Recommended Pages, etc. Winking smile
  • Above all else, use Facebook sparingly. Consider how many of your thoughts are about “something I saw on Facebook” and whether its curated news Feed Algorithm should really have that much influence on you. Don’t let Facebook decide what is important for you to see.

Agree? Disagree? Voice your thoughts by commenting on this post on Facebook.

-- Matt Kruse, developer of the Social Fixer browser extension.

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Social Fixer 10.6 Release Notes and Bug Fixes


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social_fixer_bandaid74Social Fixer 10.6 is a patch release to fix several bugs and problems, some caused by recent Facebook code changes. Read below for the short list of fixes.

download55222
Install the 10.6 update by going to SocialFixer.com

What’s Fixed?

  • The Control Panel stopped floating down when the page was scrolled
  • Locking the blue header bar to the top stopped working
  • Image Previews when hovering didn’t show in some cases
  • The “Home” link in the header was no longer hideable
  • The “Find Friends” link in the header was no longer hideable
  • The red “badge” indicator on the wrench icon was not displaying correctly

What’s New?

  • Improved performance! Some internal code optimizations have made Social Fixer run faster than ever.
  • Added a link to the Support Group whenever commenting on Social Fixer posts in the news feed. The goal is to direct people to the place where they can get the best assistance.
  • Added a simple error message to the Image Preview “loading” popup when a full sized image cannot be loaded. In some cases, I cannot calculate the correct full sized image location.

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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Social Fixer 10.4 Release Notes and Bug Fixes


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social_fixer_bandaid7Social Fixer 10.4 is a patch release to fix several bugs and problems, primarily caused by recent changes in browsers and their extension API’s. Read below for the short list of fixes.
(Note: 10.3 was previously published but had a problem, so I quickly re-released and updated the version to 10.4)download5522
Install the 10.4 update by going to SocialFixer.com

What’s Fixed?

  • Preferences would often not save in Firefox 30+. This turned out to be a complex problem caused by an internal browser change.
  • The News Feed would load posts forever, slowing down the browser. Now it once again stops after loading 5 pages of posts, so the browser can take a rest.
  • Greasemonkey 2.0 caused errors because of a change in their code.
  • Posts would sometimes disappear in Chrome, especially when they had been moved to a tab and you switched to that tab.
  • Newer themes (Midnight, Desktop, Appassionata) were missing from the theme selector window.
  • In some cases, Social Fixer would run invisibly in hidden windows or in other cases, causing slowdown. It now runs only when really needed.

The list of changes is small and there are no exciting new features. But this fixes a number of problems many users have experienced. Hopefully the next release will have more fun stuff. Smile

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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Social Fixer 10.4 Release Notes And Bug Fixes


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social_fixer_bandaidSocial Fixer 10.4 is a patch release to fix several bugs and problems, primarily caused by recent changes in browsers and their extension API’s. Read below for the short list of fixes.

download552
Install the 10.4 update by going to SocialFixer.com

What’s Fixed?

  • Preferences would often not save in Firefox 30+. This turned out to be a complex problem caused by an internal browser change.
  • The News Feed would load posts forever, slowing down the browser. Now it once again stops after loading 5 pages of posts, so the browser can take a rest.
  • Greasemonkey 2.0 caused errors because of a change in their code.
  • Posts would sometimes disappear in Chrome, especially when they had been moved to a tab and you switched to that tab.
  • Newer themes (Midnight, Desktop, Appassionata) were missing from the theme selector window.
  • In some cases, Social Fixer would run invisibly in hidden windows or in other cases, causing slowdown. It now runs only when really needed.

The list of changes is small and there are no exciting new features. But this fixes a number of problems many users have experienced. Hopefully the next release will have more fun stuff. Smile 

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer

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True Story: Facebook Tried To Control Your Emotions By Manipulating Your News Feed


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1984As if you don’t have enough reasons to distrust Facebook, here’s one more: They intentionally manipulated the positive and negative content of users’ News Feed to see if they could affect and manipulate the emotions of those users. Wow.

There is a lot of coverage about this story on the web, but here’s the very short version of the official paper: In 2012, Facebook analyzed the posts in the News Feed of about 700,000 users for one week, and slightly increased or decreased which stories appeared, based on whether posts were “positive” or “negative”. Then they measured posts made by the people whose news Feed they had manipulated, to see if the slightly more positive or negative posts in their feed made them post more positive or negative content.

Can the positivity or negativity of posts on Facebook affect whether your posts become positive or negative? Apparently, according to the study: Yes.

Creepy. Not just the results, but the fact that Facebook would even do a study like this. Right?

Many sites have pointed out potential ethical issues in this experiment, questioned whether informed consent should have been required, and asked if a site like Facebook should be doing experiments like this at all. Here is my take on what matters in this latest Facebook PR mess:

It’s Probably Not That Bad. Kind Of.

As Adam Kramer (one of the study authors) points out in a public post, the actual user impact of this was probably pretty insignificant. It’s highly unlikely that anyone suffered emotional trauma or was truly negatively affected. It was a relatively small sample, over a short period, and the level of manipulation was very small. In my personal opinion, some people are inflating the significance of the actual impact of the study and its emotional effects on users. The actual study itself seems fairly harmless, really.

However, the important points to remember and consider are:

Facebook Dictates What You See

Facebook decides what you do and don’t see from your friends, family, and Pages you are interested in. True, you give them that power by clicking a checkbox when you sign up. But is it really working for you? Do you like it that way? Are you comfortable with Facebook deciding what you do and don’t see?

Most users want a simple, unfiltered, chronological News Feed so they can browse through and see everything. But Facebook doesn’t want you to have that. A big part of the reason is so they can charge money to businesses that want to make sure their posts appear. But another reason is so they can run experiments like this and others to figure out how people behave. Facebook is the experiment, and you are the lab rat. When you think of it that way, it’s kind of less fun, isn’t it?

A Slippery Slope To “Censorship”?

Facebook says it wants to show you the “highest quality” content, and the posts you are most interested in. But it doesn’t let you decide what is important. It doesn’t even let you have a vote. It attempts to derive your interest by spying on everything you do – down to the level of watching where your mouse moves, when you stop scrolling, and which links you click on. Even if you never Like or Comment on anything, Facebook is watching you closely to figure out how to sell advertising to you.

Recently Facebook announced that it determined “meme pictures” were low quality content, and they would appear less often. What about people who love memes? Do they get a vote?

March forward a few years, and what will Facebook be determining is “low quality” content? Posts containing a religious message? Posts containing anti-war sentiments? Posts criticizing the government? Posts about controversial topics like abortion? Posts about an obscure hobby you enjoy? Posts about topics you are interested in but aren’t mainstream?

Facebook has demonstrated the very subtle ability to manipulate how people feel and behave by changing what they are exposed to. It’s not a huge leap to imagine them pushing a political, social, religious, or cultural agenda and affecting public thought by manipulating what the Billion+ people using the site see every day.

It’s like a huge, worldwide, interactive TV broadcast, and the only people in charge of what content you see is Facebook themselves. Are you comfortable with this level of influence? Are we giving them too much influence in our life? I put “censorship” in quotes on purpose because this isn’t the government restricting free speech, and everyone is free to use Facebook or not. But they are limiting what you see, and you may not even realize it.

Conclusion: Understand The Product You Are Using

In the end, Facebook is a very useful and entertaining service, but because it has such an overwhelming influence on people and is so dominant on the web, it’s important that users understand what they are using and how it could work against them.

Understand that you are not seeing everything you could see, and that Facebook is deciding what it thinks you should see. An unknown algorithm is ranking content and controlling what you are exposed to on a daily basis. If you don’t like that, you should speak up. Facebook makes money by advertising to users. If you get sick of the site and leave, they will lose money. It’s in their best financial interest to keep you. In theory.

Understand that you are not the customer, you are the product being sold. Your eyeballs are being sold to advertisers for the highest bid, and Facebook’s primary focus is to know as much about you as they can so they can serve you the best ads that you might click on. Perhaps their goal is to not just learn things about you, but to influence what you think, how you feel, and what products you like, so it can turn you over to companies who will gladly take your money. If they can slightly manipulate emotions, who is to say that they won’t slightly influence public sentiment in favor of a brand that is a big advertiser with them?

Finally, Understand that Social Media can have an impact on how you feel about the world and yourself, even if they aren’t manipulating the news feed. Be careful with how you use it, and the power that you give it in your life.

What Do You Think?

Did Facebook go too far? Does this creep you out, or could you not care less? Comment here or on this post on Facebook and let your opinion be heard.

-- Matt Kruse, developer of Social Fixer, a browser extension that makes Facebook better.

Posted in Featured | 1,240 Comments