Social Media Tools, Facebook

Why Facebook Should Stop Judging Content Quality

badge guest post FLATTER Why Facebook Should Stop Judging Content QualityTechCrunch put an article out on August 23, 2013 reporting that Facebook will soon begin to punish “LOLCats-style memes” in the Facebook newsfeed. Facebook believes memes are low quality, but did not explain why, and I completely disagree. This post is entirely my opinion.

Facebook Shouldn’t Be Judging Content Quality

This action is a huge shift in Facebook’s modus operandi. It’s new for them to make a judgment, outside of what people interact with, on the quality of any type of content. (I’m not including in this things that are illegal or indecent – we have clear cultural standards for age, alcohol, medications, sexual content and the like, and I support those guidelines.) The newsfeed algorithm’s job is to surface what people interact with, thus improving the quality of their feed. Now, Facebook is saying you’re wrong. “You are too stupid to recognize quality posts. Even though you interact with these memes, we’ll help you be more sophisticated by not showing them to you.” Instead of relying on their own democratically-driven newsfeed algorithm, Facebook will apply its own aesthetic, with no explanation of that aesthetic.

Facebook Memes Why Facebook Should Stop Judging Content Quality

This Decision Hurts Small Businesses The Most

For the last year, among other things I teach, I’ve shown companies how to leverage memes to help their business market on Facebook. Many companies, especially small ones, are at a disadvantage in this new world of publishing interesting content EVERY day. How does the understaffed, undertrained, and underfunded small business create something new and effective every day? The fuel that social media burns is novelty. Sometimes you achieve novelty with something just a little bit new, or by combining two old things to get attention. Memes accomplish that. They are a time-efficient and effective way to get a message out.

I find this a disturbing precedent, because whatever alternatives to memes we develop may later be penalized as well. If Facebook says memes are crappy, what do they view as ideal content? Should we just expect years of case by case elimination of certain kinds of content? I think Facebook just stepped onto a slippery slope: judging content apart from illegal/indecent things, and it disturbs me that it’s not better defined.

Why Facebook Will Probably Get Away With It

Facebook can do whatever they want, and despite user griping, people won’t leave. How many people left when they got mad about having to pay to promote their posts? They’re making more money than ever, and if Facebook continues with this path of censoring posting tactics that work, companies will have to pay more for visibility. There’s a financial gain for them here in this unexplained decision.

I have no problem with Facebook making money, and I love marketing with it. I’m a huge evangelist for them and have written two books about it. I look forward to continuing that, but with this particular decision, I completely disagree. What do you think?

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  • JD

    Facebook is ridiculous to me. Things like this and forcing people to pay to promote their posts kill small business and make life for me extremely hard. But like you said, people don’t leave and the potential is still here. If I didn’t have to be there, I wouldn’t. Competely am fed up with Facebook.

    • http://www.jeffgibbard.com/ Jeff Gibbard

      You don’t actually HAVE to be there. Look at the ROI of using Facebook over the last year and ask yourself whether you actually NEED it? Chances are the world will keep spinning and your business will keep running with or without Facebook. My company has stopped investing the time and money in Facebook because it is simply too complicated and the results are unimpressive. We’ve seen far more success from other platforms.

  • Neicole Crepeau

    Just another example of Facebook choosing their business interests over their users’ interests, and another step on the path of decline for Facebook.

  • https://corp.wishpond.com/ Nick @ Wishpond

    If Facebook really wants to know what content people like they should check out how many memes make the Front Page of Reddit every day.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Incredibly good point.

      • https://corp.wishpond.com/ Nick @ Wishpond

        Thanks Jay

  • Dave Link

    I commented on similarly on yesterday’s post on this topic, but Facebook is getting into the content judging game to be a gate through which users must now pay to be acceptable within the news feed. As you correctly state, this punishes mostly those who go about using free or curated content while lifting up those who have the money and time to create content of their own. Users will ultimately be the best judge as to what they do or don’t want in their news feeds regardless of what the Facebook admins think.

  • http://about.me/KariRippetoe Kari Rippetoe

    There’s so much they do without any explanation or real reasoning – I still don’t understand why they have a 20% text rule in place for images in promoted posts. Doesn’t make sense.

    I also don’t understand what criteria they’re going to apply when judging these memes. It’s all completely counter to their recent content quality algorithm change, which (as you said) judges content by user interaction.

    Maybe they think memes are oversaturating the newsfeed. All I can say is I’m frustrated and confused.

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    I’d suggest that this decision doesn’t hurt anyone until we see the impact. It’s not clear exactly what this means, so we can only speculate. It may actually be good for those expressing the most concern.

  • Ravi Shukle

    Agree with the notion that Facebook shouldn’t be deciding what’s good and not good content. If fans prefer memes then this shouldn’t be penalised e.g George Takei’s posts are mainly memes which get a huge amount of interaction. Only time will tell on how strict Facebook will be with this update.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    I agree with you, Brian, that Facebook shouldn’t be gauging what’s quality content and what’s not. It’s disappointing that memes are falling into the sub-par category! Seems like a slippery slope and too policed to be the more open social network they are striving to be with the recent hashtag incorporation.

  • Cat Fyson (Koozai)

    Hi Brian,

    Facebook are clearly not paying attention to the reasons why memes go down so well – they are humorous, and get a simple message across easily. Users like engaging them, and so brands are naturally going to like using them.

    Like you said, what content are they favouring if they are degrading memes?

    It’s a pity that Facebook does seem ‘behind the times’. I follow quite a lot of brands on Facebook and their content is just not making its way to me due to their backwards settings.

  • http://lisasullivanpr.com/ Lisa Sullivan

    Isn’t this somewhat similar to what Google is doing with its push toward Google Authorship and its integrated approach of their other products, primarily Google+? While I get each of these platforms are free to the user and that as a business in and of themselves, they have to find a way to make money (I applaud that effort actually), this whole business about giving certain content credence over other content based on what THEY believe is valuable (or in Google’s case, because it sits on their product base), does nothing for me as a user or marketer. If I’m going to invest my time “liking” or “circling” certain Pages, it’s my business and I should be able to see the content from the Pages/businesses I have liked or circled. If I’m going to invest my resources as a business, then the platforms need to give me, the marketer, a valid reason to invest in them. “Games” (in quotes as I use this term loosely) like this these platforms are playing to build revenue just don’t sit well with me. There has to be a better way. Just my two cents.

  • Adam B

    Facebook email will never get off the ground and Zuckerberg needs to set his priorities straight.

  • MidnightDestiny

    Facebook really needs to chill I love the website and all, but all they care about at this point is money

  • Graciousstore

    Well, I have heard people say they make money through Facebook, and I say good for them. Facebook was not designed for marketers so I find it very had to market my products on Facebook

  • kpogge

    I completely agree! thanks for the great post