Shanghaiist recently reached 20,000 fans on our Facebook page (as of writing we have 20,402). That’s 20,000 people who have told Facebook that they want to see our posts in their news feed, and yet, because of a new algorithm designed precisely to bleed small time publishers and blogs for money they don’t have, our posts reach barely 10% of our total fans.
Dangerous Minds has the full story (and provided the excellent graphic you see at the top of this post):
At Dangerous Minds, we post anywhere from 10 to 16 items per day, fewer on the weekends. To reach 100% of of our 50k+ Facebook fans they’d charge us $200 per post. That would cost us between $2000 and $3200 per day – but let’s go with the lower, easier to multiply number. We post seven days a week, that would be about $14,000 per week, $56,000 per month; a grand total of $672,000 for what we got for free before Facebook started turning the traffic spigot down in Spring of this year – wouldn’t you know it – right around the time of their badly managed IPO.
While Facebook is of course entitled to do this, it’s their platform after all, forcing publishers to pay for access to their own users is approaching levels of monopolistic control that anti-trust laws are designed for. That Facebook has introduced this system without properly explaining it to its users (who, it bears repeating, told Facebook that they wanted to see our – or other page’s – stories) is underhanded and conniving.
Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing:
Before you get too smug, remember there’s nothing stopping other social networks or sharing services from doing exactly the same thing. It’s never a good idea to depend on a single third-party platform to amplify your content, but that’s what so many small online publishing businesses are stuck doing these days. Still, none of the major ones have behaved as egregiously and onerously as Facebook, and IMO, DM’s absolutely right to call them out.
Social media is not a truly free market, people cannot move across platforms at will because for a platform to be effective it needs a mass of users, and walled gardens like Facebook do their best to ensure that their users aren’t able to communicate easily with rival services. As publishers we can’t not engage with our audience through Facebook, the potential benefit is too great, but that does not mean we cannot complain when Facebook abuses its power and exploits this benefit.
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