I'll be scaling down my activities on Facebook on my personal Facebook profile
, and in future concentrating more on my author page
I've been on Facebook since it first opened up beyond current full-time students back in 2007 or thereabouts, as it seemed to be a useful way of keeping in touch with friends and getting in touch with friends one had lost touch with. But over the years since then Facebook has become more and more like alcohol in its effects on sexual activity, which, as one character in Shakespeare's Macbeth puts it, increases the desire but takes away the performance.
The last straw came when I was hoping to raise enough money to enter one of my children's novels, Cross Purposes, in the Best Indie Book Awards (BIBA). I needed to sell about 15 copies of the book by the end of February 2023 to have enough money for the entry fee. So I asked my 640 Facebook friends (among others) to pass on information about the book to anyone they knew who had children in the 9-12 age range who liked reading. Of course if they bought the book for their own kids, so much the better, but engaging with it in some way on Facebook would be OK, preferably by "liking" and sharing it. That wouldn't cost them anything but the effort of a couple of mouse clicks, But very few were willing to do even that. Unless people do that, Facebook will not show the post to any more people. Facebook's algorithms emphasise trivia, and so more people engage with pictures of cats and sunsets than they do about more serious subjects.
Only about 3 or 4 reacted to that post, so it was probably seen by very few people. And only 2 people had bought the book after 10 days -- not enough to pay the entry fee for BIBA,
Facebook says that if you want people to engage with more serious stuff, you need a page, not just a personal profile. For a long time I resisted this, because I thought I would prefer to engage with friends and acquaintances over a wide range of subjects, and not just one topic. I thought that out of my 640 friends I might be able to find at least 40-50 who shared my interest in reading and writing books, but no, Facebook's algorithms squeeze out that interest in favour of pictures of cats and sunsets, unless a sufficient number of one's "friends" are willing to "like" and share posts about books, and it seems that I don't have enough friends who are willing to do that.
So most of my Facebook activity in future will be on my author profile
and author page
, and I'll be scaling down my activity on my personal profile
, I'll probably still link to my personal profile on my cell phone, which is good for posting pictures of cats and sunsets and for one-liner replies and comments. But for serious stuff I'll use my computers which will go first to my author profile
and page. If anyone is really interested in talking to me, my email addresses are in my "bio" on my personal Facebook page -- and I prefer email to Facebook's Messenger and Whatsapp. I rarely look at Messenger and don't have Whatsapp at all.
Facebook, like many web sites, operates on a "bait and switch" principle. The "bait" is an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family, and getting in touch with old friends. The "switch" is that in order to keep people's eyes on ads that earn Facebook their money, users must stay on their site as long as possible. Therefore Facebook shows photos on its own site to more people than it shows posts that have links to other sites (like blog posts or book reviews) -- unless those sites are ones that pay Facebook's owners Meta for click-throughs. And it is for this reason that no matter how many "friends" you have on Facebook, Facebook will only show you posts from about 25-30 of them, and those posts will not be prioritised by how much you like them, but by how much other people like them as well, and the other people may not share your interests at all.
Some of this activity can be measured by Facebook, but some of it cannot. They can measure how many likes and shares a particular post has. What they cannot measure is the number of people who get tired of being channelled and herded into trivia and away from serious posts that have external links, and eventually visit Facebook less and less. They have no way of measuring the loss of those eyeballs on ads, and what it costs them in lost ad revenue, and is therefore counterproductive.
So if you want to see stuff from friends whose stuff Facebook has stopped showing you, you'll need to go to their profile and "like" some of the stuff they have posted, unless, of course, they are among those who have become sick of being herded and channelled by algorithms and have simply dropped out of Facebook altogether.