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Exposing Facebook’s Blatant Hypocrisy When It Comes to Its Stance on Net Neutrality

facebook-dislikeBefore I continue, I want to say that I’m a big fan of Facebook – that is, the Facebook of a few years ago.  I still think the site offers one of the best platforms for people to connect with one another, share information and stay informed about whatever topics it is that they find to be important to them.

But since going public, Facebook has changed and unfortunately not for the better.  In their move to maximize revenue over user experience the site has been attacked by many for having too many ads, not enough of the content they want and a News Feed that seems to be getting more annoying with every update they roll out.  I mean, do I really need to see an older story at the top of my News Feed just because someone commented on it?  “Most recent” means most recent.  I’m not sure why that’s such a complicated issue.

And while probably not known to many outside of those who deal with Facebook often, they’re constantly changing their algorithm to determine what stories will or won’t be shown based on metrics that they never really explain to anyone.  They say these changes are meant to only show “quality content,” but never define exactly what “quality content” means.  Meanwhile, articles like “Wu-tang Affiliate Cuts Off His Member and Jumps Out Window” continue to find their way into my News Feed.

But what these algorithm changes really break down to is Facebook wanting businesses that have Facebook pages to pay to be seen by those who’ve “liked” their page.  And that’s fine if executed properly – it’s reasonable for Facebook to say that people making a hefty profit from their site should pay a reasonable amount for marketing.  It’s a business and businesses usually want to make money.  I’m fine with that.  And I’m willing to invest in marketing something as long as that investment pays off.  But with Facebook, that’s usually not the case.

I’ve covered in great detail what an absolute scam Facebook marketing actually is.  If you haven’t read that article, I would highly encourage you to do so.  It’s not that most people have an unwillingness to pay for marketing, it’s the fact that what most of these pages are paying for is utterly useless.

Well, as many of you have heard the FCC is addressing the net neutrality issue that’s threatening to ruin the Internet – and that’s not an exaggeration.  If Internet service providers are allowed to throttle speeds to sites that don’t pay them what they’re asking, that’s the end of the Internet as we know it.  It’ll essentially mean your small business pages will be unusable while companies like Walmart will see their pages fly along at max speeds.

And let’s not forget that when all is said and done, making businesses pay to have access to faster Internet speeds from these providers won’t be absorbed as another expense in their accounting departments.  Oh, no.  These new expenses will simply be passed on to consumers by way of higher prices for goods and services.  So we’ll be paying for our Internet connection and for these companies to pay the Internet providers to provide their websites with the Internet speeds that we’re already paying to have!   

Understandably, many of the biggest names in tech and other industries have come forward condemning this, saying that allowing a “fast lane” to Internet access threatens every aspect of what makes the Internet such a great tool.  And they’re absolutely right.

And it just so happens Facebook is one of the companies fighting for true net neutrality.  Something that I, and millions of other Americans, fully agree with.  It’s a frightening thought to think that websites can possibly be throttled by Internet service providers if those websites don’t pay premium fees for faster service.  I’m glad companies like Facebook, Google and many others are speaking out against it.

But when it comes to Facebook’s objection to this, it comes with a large dose of hypocrisy – because it’s almost exactly what they’re doing with Facebook pages! 

Facebook filters content you see in your News Feed based on an algorithm they say “maximizes quality content that you want to see.”  But the truth of the matter is they’re trying to get the owners of these Facebook pages to pay money so that people who’ve “liked” them will actually see their content.  They want the owners of these pages to pay them to “boost a post” (similar to paying for access in the “fast lane” on the Internet), then Facebook will push the posts you boost to a non-specific number of people based on how much you pay (essentially like the notion of the more you pay, the faster speeds your website will get).

Something that seems pointless considering it’s extremely simple for anyone on Facebook to hide or unlike a page that they no longer wish to see content from.

So to me it’s just completely hypocritical that Facebook objects to the possibility that sites like theirs might one day have to pay Internet service providers to grant users of Facebook speedy access to their site (a point on which I fully agree with them), while they’re essentially doing the same thing to owners of Facebook pages.  They’re constantly making changes to their algorithm in an effort to try to force pages to pay so that they’ll have better access to people who’ve already “liked” them on Facebook.

If you don’t pay, your page is likely to get buried with only a fraction (often just 1-2%) of those who “like” your page actually getting to see your content.  Granted, they mask all of this under the guise of “it’s about pages producing quality content,” but almost anyone who runs one of these pages knows that’s complete bullshit.

So while I support Facebook’s stance against the FCC and those who seem determined to destroy net neutrality, I just wish Facebook would bring “Facebook neutrality” back to its website and let the users decide what content they want to see and from what pages – not their shoddy, ever-changing algorithm.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

  • Deb Gmyr

    I totally agree. There are some pages that started in the last year or so, and didnt have chance to build up to 20000 fans yet, so good page with great content and 1500 followers doenst stand a chance now because only 10 people see their posts. it is a shame, because most of these pages work hard to produce quality content. We should be able to choose what we see. Half of my newsfeed is full of Teabaggers pages, and i never, ever liked any of that nonsense, and i dont see the pages i want to see. They arent offering me quality content when i see the opposite view forced on my feed all day!! What can we do?