Facebook isn’t going anywhere soon, but it’s slowly killing itself

People like attention. Even shy people enjoy the idea that others appreciate them and their work, especially when you can engage comfortably from behind the walls of the internet.

We all might like varying levels of attention, but when we want it, we are going to try to put the least amount of effort into gaining as much attention as possible.

That’s what made Facebook great for so long. A simple post could garner a slew of likes and comments within hours. It paid to put effort into regular updates because you could gain the satisfaction that people paid attention to you by liking your material.

facebook-graveyard-imageBut as Facebook algorithms have changed in recent years, so has the attention. On a personal level, you most likely have seen your likes and comments go down. On a professional level, organizations have seen their reach drop tremendously.

The figures have gone from a 16% reach in Feburary 2012 to 6.5% in March 2014.

There should be no surprise it’s about money. Both personal and professional pages now have the chance to pay money to promote their posts. It’s incredibly effective and can boost the reach of a post tremendously. But it’s not organic, and the system is forcing out un-paid content.

Money is important, but Facebook is taking short-term gains that will play out into long-term disaster.

Here are a few likely thoughts from the common personal Facebook user:

Huh, my likes and comments are down….

…People must not be using Facebook anymore. I better find something new.

…I guess my material isn’t as interesting as it used to be. No point in putting more effort into my bunk content.

…My life isn’t as interesting as it used to be. Clearly no one wants to hear about it anymore.

 

Any three of these scenarios lead to the same result: people spending less time on Facebook or simply leaving altogether.

So while the social media pioneer has astutely found a great opportunity to make money by offering more views in exchange for cash, there simply are not going to be any eyes to see that paid content very soon.

As people leave, disappointed that they no longer receive any attention (because their organic posts are drowned out by paid users), there won’t a market for advertisers and the money will dry up. What Facebook will be left with is a site devoid of both organic users and the paid machines.

 

A Great Example of the Broken Algorithm

Recently I watched with unbelieving shock as my alma mater advanced to the Final Four. It wasn’t surprising that just about every Badger fan I knew took to Facebook to proclaim their love and joy.

But so much excitement encompassing an entire community broke the algorithm. Facebook become a cycle of people liking the same sentiment from the person who had just liked their nearly identical post. Which is fine for a few hours. But this went on for days.

Facebook, through its infinite wisdom, collected these popular posts and continued to recycle them through my news feed for days. New content barely had a chance to gain a foothold. And suddenly I was reading the same material days old.

Eventually, the situation ironed itself out, but more than ever over the last months, I find posts 24 or 48 hours old appearing at the top of my news feed. In a day where more of us are becoming addicted to Twitter, a few hours is already often too old.

 

What Can I do?

You have a few options when it comes to Facebook:

  1. Post only the most fantastic news. Make sure people comment using the word “congratulations,” because that’s a positive trigger in the algorithm.
  2. Become an anarchist. You have the option to click on a tab within every advertisement or sponsored post that allows you to tell Facebook to stop showing that content. Go through every one of these posts and tell Facebook you don’t need it. Then when they ask further, tell them it’s spam or indecent. Just see what happens.
  3. Constructively repair Facebook. Also within every tab is an option to “Make News Feed Better!” Only issue is… I’ve been attempting to load this page for an hour without any luck. So I’ve given up on that.
  4. Leave Facebook. Go find something else that makes you feel more appreciated.

 

Is Facebook Done?

Certainly not.

But it’s well on its way.

Over 1.2 billion people are on Facebook. That’s over 17% of the world’s population and over 50% of all internet users worldwide. Those are staggering figures, and it is going to take a long time for Facebook to kill itself. But it’s on its way, and we’ve seen before how quickly a social media site can crash and burn. (RIP Myspace)

Facebook had strong potential to become a permanent fixture in modern technology. And it still does, but not if it doesn’t change its operations. Mark Zuckerberg has a couple options: Return Facebook to its prime and live in the glory of having created a communications platform that will last for generations. Or make a few billion over the next decade before watching his creation die. No one can blame a guy for taking the cash, but Zuckerberg could have been the modern Edison or Ford.

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Parties Need to Diversify Ideologies

The United States national political scene is hopelessly a two-party system.

It is unrealistic to imagine the emergence of a viable third national party within our lifetimes. As long as elections are determined by a simple plurality or ‘first past the post,’ it will be incredibly difficult for a third party to gain seats in Congress or win a Presidential election.

But the two-party system is not necessarily to blame. The issue lies in both parties creating homogenized ideologies over the last half century. Individuals say what the party says and a gridlock between just two ideological camps is born.

But it certainly has not always been this way. Political blogger Ezra Klein explains a world where party affiliation did not necessarily predict ideology.

“In the mid-20th century, the two major political parties were ideologically diverse. Democrats in the South were often more conservative than Republicans in the North. The strange jumble in political coalitions made disagreement easier. The other party wasn’t so threatening because it included lots of people you agreed with.”

So how do we break apart the parties? Caucuses could be the solution.

Congressional Member Organizations, often formed as caucuses, are officially recognized factions of Congress. They are governed by a few rules pertaining to funding and staffing and must register, but otherwise the groups are free to form around just about any topic or ideology.

Some caucuses contain members of just one party. The Blue Dogs are more conservative members of the Democratic Party. The Republican Study Committee is a subset of 170 Republicans.

Other caucuses reach across party lines, such as the Congressional Pro-Trade Caucus, the Senate Oceans Caucus or the U.S.-China Working Group. These groups bring together like-minded individuals from both sides of the aisle.

Both partisan and bi-partisan caucuses have the potential to blur the lines. The Senate Oceans Caucus allows for coalition building on marine issues. A coalition of like-minded Senators from both sides can provide another alternative on specific issues to the traditional ideologies of the two parties.

And partisan caucuses can break apart a party as well. The Tea Party Caucus was formed in 2010 and had 66 members. Although it has officially gone dormant, the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party is alive and well.

The 2013 federal government shutdown came to an end when moderate Republicans broke away from the Tea Party and formed a compromise with Democrats. The eventual compromise bill received support from every Democrat in the House and Senate but divided the Republican Party.

In essence, you had three groups fighting for a solution. The party had been broken and compromise was struck.

We may never break away from the two-party system, but it is insane to think that every member of a political party should have the same ideology. It’s time for elected officials to think for themselves and find others who also think like them, even if they have a different letter next to their name.

And it’s not just Americans who are fed up.

“Parties need to redefine their culture by which they do politics,” said British MP Douglas Carswell in a recent interview with The Economist. “Instead of this absurd belief that every single conservative has to subscribe to the same views and beliefs, we should lighten up. We should relax. We should recognize that parties are broad coalitions of people with different views. And that’s fine, that’s okay.”