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Facebook? Fleecebook!

If you use Facebook, and you believe that your identity is YOURS, then please read this post.

You may have heard that Facebook is preparing an initial stock offering. All those changes you’ve been noticing in recent months? The ones that make it impossible for you to decipher your own profile page? To find anyone you care about? To read anything that interests you?

Or, what about all the upgrades? Like, the ads you see EVERYWHERE? Or, the messages that tell you your friend so-and-so likes such-and-such, and why don’t you like it, too? Or, the ‘recent updates’ button in the newsfeed, that somehow converts itself to ‘top stories’ at random, inexplicable intervals?

According to this article in TechCrunch, your average personal Facebook profile post only reaches 12% of your friends. Wonder why you posted how you had herpes, and nobody cared?

12%.

You got engaged, and nobody congratulated you?

12%.

You were having a VERY BAD DAY and vented on Facebook, and most of your friends said…….nothing?

12%.

Business pages do not fare any better. Over the past year or so, businesses have been encouraged to have as many Likers (formerly Fans) as possible. Now, Facebook has downgraded their admission of viewership of business pages from 16% to the same 12% number as personal profile pages.

All those things you gave away to get people to like your page?

12%.

All that time you spent begging your friends to click the Like button?

12%.

All that money you paid to companies to help you build a base of Likers?

12%.

We need to take back ownership of our own identities, people. Facebook has made a business decision, for the benefit themselves and their pending shareholders, to become FLEECEBOOK, the Advertising Platform Formerly Known as Facebook. They are no longer a social network.

If you do not want them to know the varying size and color of your underwear, or the contents of your stomach without the benefit of an autopsy, or the color of your pubic hair, you need to change the way you use their platform. Because, let me tell you right now, they are mining EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY THING you click, you share, you read, you join, you play and you download, and they are connecting dots with EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY THING the people you interact with most do, and they are selling that information to EVERYBODY WHO WILL PAY FOR IT.

We have all agreed to have casual, unprotected sex with a very, very bad partner.

So, here’s what I propose.

Click on things you don’t really like at all just to screw with them. Share things you’d never read in a million years just because. Edit your ‘close friends’ list to be a random assortment of those friends you really hate, just to mess up the research they’re selling to advertisers about you. Only 12% of your friends will see any of this nonsense anyway, so why does accuracy really matter so much to you?

If we’re not sharing anything meaningful, Facebook is worthless to the very people who are about to become billionaires by selling the information we flippantly give away: information about ourselves, what we like, what we buy, what we do, where we go.

Take action to stop Facebook from Fleecebooking you.

66 Comments Post a comment
  1. LIKE.

    March 7, 2012
    • Did you click Like on Facebook, Lou? :)

      I haven’t been on there today, so I don’t know. MTM posts my blog every morning, and he shares it again in the afternoon, and that is the only reason he goes on there every day.

      March 7, 2012
      • Lou Mello #

        I usually do a quick like or Share just to keep MTM happy since I know he just lives and dies to get the little “dings” with his notifications.

        March 7, 2012
      • He does, Lou. That he does.

        March 7, 2012
  2. Huzzah! Brava! Cheers! Yes, I’m getting tired of it personally and professionally I am having to keep up, learn new strategies and tactics. I’ve always said that if you don’t own the platform, don’t trust it.

    Last year when so many people were discussing Facebook commerce allowing companies to sell their products on FB, or use FB as a replacement for their website, I was saying, NO, NO, NO! Use your own website that you own, control and have complete rights to!

    As a business person, piling money into a basket that you can’t control is perilous. Now Facebook has become yet another advertising outlet, not unlike the local television stations, newsless paper and websites offering digital ad placements. They have become their own Google. At least Google has always been pretty up-front about tracking, and showing ads based on what you look at. FB, not so much.

    I’ve blogged continually on my business blog about the issues, and I’ll continue.

    March 7, 2012
    • This post is somewhat in your face to make a point: don’t be flip about using tools like Facebook. Protect information that you don’t want the universe to know about you. Do not assume that your Facebook friends know what’s going on in your life just because you post it there. Decide who you really value as friends, and make sure you stay connected with them in other ways.

      I agree that Google and Facebook are not the same issue, since it has come up below. Google has always been pretty candid, in my opinion, about what they do with our information. And, you know what? I don’t even PAY ATTENTION to their ads. I never click on any of them. I can always find what I’m looking for in a search, organically, and I value that more, which underscores the importance of staying on top of optimization.

      What is more insidious about Google is this: the man who Googled a random health term and was denied health insurance because the company bought that information. Things like that are scary, because we have arrived at the place where ANYTHING you do online is a commodity to someone, and people are going to start making decisions about you based on that, making flip sharing of everything about ourselves ill-advised.

      March 7, 2012
      • IMHO, Google + is not very social and I haven’t seen very much interaction there. Basically, Google is saying that G+ isn’t really a social network but it gives them the ability to refine your search experience and deliver more relevant results but all I’ve seen is that their search results are now a total mess.

        March 7, 2012
      • I wish Google + were more social. I really should spend more time there. If more people spent time there, that would help.

        March 7, 2012
  3. It’s turned into a mess and while I don’t want to give any investment advice, I will anyway and I’d say, NO!

    March 7, 2012
    • I’ve stopped investing a lot of my time. I won’t be buying any stock (as if I had money to buy stock……….)

      March 7, 2012
  4. I have to admit that I’m perversely fascinated with what Facebook comes up for me to like. It would be funny to punk them a little.

    March 7, 2012
    • I do think it would be an amusing exercise to click on random things and see what Facebook decided to show you from those clicks. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest such a thing. :)

      March 7, 2012
  5. Jas #

    i completely agree.. recently its been so complicated that I don’t understand half of the features there…

    March 7, 2012
    • And, they are making it very, very clear that they don’t care, Jas. They believe they have hooked people, and they will come there regardless, and they’re going to make money.

      I cannot wait for the next one of these to turn these people into My Space.

      March 7, 2012
  6. alice #

    Hmm. All of the changes FB has made have made me stop using it for anything meaningful already. I haven’t posted anything in months – except RIP Don Cornelius. I am not sure what that tells them about me…

    So amen sister. Thanks for the heads up on fleecebook.

    March 7, 2012
    • I pretty much post my blog, send a random picture here and there through Instagram, make a once-in-a-blue moon status update, and try to keep up with people I care about. And, I will share something for a friend.

      March 7, 2012
  7. I thought it was just me – technologically challenged. It is amazing to find out that even though you always figured you were quirky and unique, well, you’re not so much as every time I turn around…there I am looking at myself from a different profile. :D

    So….how do I PIN your blog?

    March 7, 2012
    • To PIN my blog, you have to upload the picture. Since you don’t have the picture file, you would have to download it from the blog and re-upload to Pinterest. I don’t know why Pinterest doesn’t find the pictures in my blog posts when I click “add a pin.”

      Which gives me a good opportunity to talk about PInterest.

      Again, because I am an early adopter, I dived into Pinterest head first. I LOVED IT. On some level, I still do, but several weeks ago, I stopped spending a lot of time there. Already, people and brands were swirling, figuring out how to sell me crap from the stuff I pin. I don’t know how to say this gracefully, so I’ll just say it:

      I AM SICK OF GIVING AWAY MY INFORMATION TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO BECOME BILLIONAIRES BY SUCKING OFF OF ME.

      I’ll even go further than that here. If you are a brand, I will not follow you on Pinterest. If you post things with prices on the photo, I unfollow you. If you are a known public relations person, and I do not have a relationship with you such that you are my true friend in real life, I will not follow you. The only boards I really invest in there, of all the ones I have, are the architect board, the quote board, and the clothes board. And, most of the things I pin on the clothes board are fantasy pieces I could never afford in real life and wouldn’t buy if I could, or vintage pieces that reflect my sense of style. Which, YES, I know brands could sell to me on the basis of those two things, so I’ll just say this so they don’t waste their time.

      I wear J Crew. Period. They ought to hire me to talk about them, because I love them.

      The only real exception to the above statement is for athletic gear, really casual wear, and hiking stuff, I buy Patagonia, who also ought to hire me to talk about them, because I love them, too.

      I don’t pin either of these brands much because they don’t need any help from me.

      March 7, 2012
      • For hosted WordPress sites, you must add the plugin to support pinning. (Since this is a WordPress.com site, you may have to enable the Pinterest Plugin in a different manner.) Then when you, the blogger, (not the reader) wish to add a “Pin It” button to the blog post, you indicate the photo’s path in the Pin It configuration window w/in your editing page for that post.

        http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pin-it-on-pinterest/

        I’m not sure it it is different in WordPress.com sites. I would think the tiny graphical item that say Pin It would appear in the list of social sharing icons currently displayed at the bottom of your blog posts.

        Pinterest users who wish to pin can either use the graphic icon w/in the post to click to pin the selected image or you as a Pinterest user can drag the Pinterest Bookmarklet to your browser’s tool bar and then when you are on a webpage with an image you wish to pin, click the bookmarklet and pin the selected item.

        March 7, 2012
      • I made a Pin It button via the Favorites bar on Safari on my iPad, and it works great on your blog photos – no uploading or downloading or plugins required.
        Instructions here (seems complex but not, just copy and paste):
        http://www.scrapbit.com/2011/06/22/pinning-idevices-pinterest/

        My Facebooking is reduced to the same level as yours, but I do love Pinterest!

        March 8, 2012
      • I don’t know how to take the price off if I repin something that happens to have a price on. Also I once pinned something and mentioned the price compared to delivery charge and it put that price in the corner even though I didn’t want it to!

        March 8, 2012
      • Knotrune, you and Amanda (right above you) should connect on Pinterest. You have similar interests.

        March 8, 2012
  8. When in doubt screw with the raw data.

    There might be hearts and fluffy chicks carouseling around my head right now.

    March 7, 2012
    • I wonder what they might show you from a few clicks of THAT…….. :)

      March 7, 2012
  9. Come on Andra, tell us how you really feel!! Just like Google, we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product. The more they can get us to reveal about ourselves, our habits, our friends and our preferences, then the more we are worth to their true customers – the people buy ads and buying that data about us. You might as well have a Facebook credit card so they can track every single purchase you make so they can sell those buying habits to the stores, the insurance companies, and the marketers.

    Never let Facebook be your “home” on the web. You need your own website that is yours, cannot (for the most part) be taken away, and is where you establish your identity. And use all the other sites with care.

    Go get ‘em Andra! I am right there with you.

    March 7, 2012
    • Michael and I are in agreement on the website!

      March 7, 2012
    • mtm #

      we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product….we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product….we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product….we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product….we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product…we are not Facebook’s customers, we are their product.

      to paraphrase Orwell…repeat the truth so much that it can never become a lie (I know that’s not exactly what he wrote)

      March 7, 2012
    • Pinterest is going to be their Fleecebook credit card. They are going to buy it. Wait and see if I’m not right…………

      March 7, 2012
      • Oh please be wrong! I’m sick of things I used to like getting so rubbish they drive me away, or worse, make me stay and suffer!

        March 8, 2012
      • I hope I am wrong, but if they want to make money, they will have to ‘evolve’ the platform.

        March 8, 2012
  10. That would be hilarious. Sadly, they would be so fucked up that it wouldn’t matter what garbage they could spew your way as long as it was SOMETHING. I’m yearning for more people to come over to G+. They mine, too, but at least they have an actual social network.

    March 7, 2012
    • I need to spend more time over there, Jessie. But, I need to do some house cleaning first. :)

      March 7, 2012
  11. I rarely spend any time on Facebook. I swing by to post links to my blog and check up on my nieces and nephews. Now I know why my links don’t garner much traffic ~ only 12% of my FB friends get to see them. :roll”

    Thanks, Andra!

    I am so GLAD that I deleted all my pseudo friends from my account and didn’t waste time trying to build a platform on FB.

    March 7, 2012
    • That should be :roll:

      March 7, 2012
    • What’s even worse, Nancy, is the 12% is a baseline. If you don’t spend much time there interacting, you really get less than 12%.

      March 7, 2012
  12. I miss the original facebook. (I joined in late 2004/early 2005 when it was still limited to colleges and a few high schools.)

    March 7, 2012
    • I joined in 2008, when not a single person I knew was on there. (Wrong age bracket. :) )

      I miss that initial sense of discovery, too, of finding people I’d lost track of, of making new friends. It no longer really works that way.

      March 7, 2012
  13. I very much appreciate the information (reminder) and the sentiment, but I don’t really agree with the reaction (although a li’l anarchy is always healthy and fun). I don’t really have friends that I hate but keep around for promotional reasons, or something. And there are ways to lock down your habits and information that require some digging, and FB leverages most folks inherent laziness. Google is very much playing the same game in their own way. I also have friends that are in the middle of a rapidly expanding business startup that uses facial recognition to gather information when you are at a kiosk or standing in front of digital signage, including gauging reaction to individual ads based on age, gender, etc. Welcome to the new, connected world. Investigate the private or ‘incognito’ mode of your favorite browser, find out how to use anonymous proxy servers, turn off all of your auto-logins, log out of things when you walk away from them, don’t use FB profiles to connect to other sites. Most people don’t know what I’m up to half the time for completely different reasons, but I think I prefer to pass on confusing some of my networks of friends on whether I am really an enthusiastic endorser of something or someone, or not. I don’t care if FB knows that…

    March 7, 2012
    • I don’t hate anyone, because that’s a waste of time. But, I do know people who keep other people on their pages just to fuel their hatred and resentment.

      But, you make several very useful points here, Brett.

      I disconnected pretty much everything from Facebook. I don’t send Tweets there anymore. I select which Instagram photos go there by picture. I don’t send anything whatsoever from Pinterest. They don’t even have my FB account information. I no longer upload many personal photos, because it creeped me out when I got messages from them saying “it looks like you’ve been to X Place, Andra. Why don’t you pin it on your map?”

      I don’t use apps. I don’t play games. I ignore all app and game requests.

      You’ve also brought up several things I don’t know how to do (incognito mode, anonymous proxy.)

      Right now, I don’t use my FB profile to connect with anything, though the days of being able to make that decision are numbered, in my opinion. Already, several news outlets make FB mandatory for sharing links or commenting, giving FB the ability to mine everything you view there, not just what you share.

      I’ve also diversified my blog. When they changed back in the Fall, I invested time in a host of other things to find readers, and I made up the loss of viewership from that. Now, Facebook doesn’t send me the most hits on any given day, and I know I have spread things around such that, as they continue to make changes, they won’t have such a negative impact on me again.

      March 7, 2012
  14. Thank you! I didn’t know the 12% figure, but I did know that I am no longer “in the loop” with so many people and events I previously enjoyed. And for friends who aren’t understanding that it isn’t the same platform, they are assuming that I know they just got out of the hospital. I like MTMs response, and think it deserves more thought on my part. I do automatically put my blog on FB when I post…maybe three friends read it there :) What an ego boost! Ha! I’ll have to think about what you’ve shared. I’m more annoyed than anything else! Debra

    March 7, 2012
    • Debra, the most frustration I’ve heard expressed among my friends is over the issue of connectedness. “I can’t understand why I posted X and nobody even cared about it.” “I put on FB that this happened to me, and nobody called.”

      The focus of Facebook is NOT to help us stay connected to our friends. Just like in real life, we really have to work now to keep up with people we care about on there.

      It has been an interesting experiment for me to switch my social media chatter from social media to my blog. I made the decision a long time ago that the people in my life who really care about me will read this blog to keep up. It’s grown into something else entirely, but that was the initial reason I started it. I wanted more meaningful interaction than Facebook and Twitter were providing, and I wanted to share information with people who would take the time to read it.

      More people should read your blog, Debra. It’s a fun read. I’ve learned so much about California and about you from it, and I know, should we ever meet, we would instantly have a rapport.

      March 7, 2012
      • I know that, too, Andra, and I think there will be a time we DO meet! :-) I, too, really wanted more connection than I could ever find on FB, but I think originally it served to introduce me to the whole (at the time very foreign) idea of social networking. That was the whole joke…that all “these 50 -60″ year olds had taken over what was originally thought to belong to college students. Why? We were fascinated! I’m kind of losing that interest, and wonder if I might just close it down soon. But you are so right that we really do need to keep up those connections in “real time” and not get lazy about that :-) I just love your passion for keeping it real! D

        March 7, 2012
      • Debra, if you decide to close it down for good, make sure you follow all the instructions. They make it virtually impossible to permanently delete your profile.

        March 7, 2012
  15. But, I do know people who keep other people on their pages just to fuel their hatred and resentment.

    Haha! I’ll bet that’s true. I notice if seeing someone’s name makes me feel momentarily yukky, and if so, I unfriend them. Annie has “friended” people because I did, and is still hanging on months later, while I’ve already forgotten them. Some people are such train wrecks that I can’t bear to watch.

    March 7, 2012
    • I started to do the same unfriending thing a while back now myself. I don’t need to put energy into caring – one way or the other – about a person who is yucky.

      I also blocked several people on Facebook, because seeing them on other people’s pages made me feel yucky. I didn’t even want to SEE them.

      If Annie and I didn’t share the migraine problem, I’d say that’s what’s causing her headaches……… :)

      March 7, 2012
  16. Imho, the worst part of Facebook is that you don’t own your own data.

    THEY retain ownership of YOUR published Facebook intellectual properties. They can use it in any way they see fit. Sell it, republish it… whatever they want.

    That includes AFTER you delete your Facebook account… unless you go through a special procedure to have it physically deleted.

    March 7, 2012
    • One of the main reasons I stopped uploading pictures. I don’t use the notes feature, either.

      March 7, 2012
  17. Bravo bravo bravo! What an informative post! I could not agree more.

    March 7, 2012
  18. it is annoying, they have made fortunes, and now use us a fertiliser for their next billions

    March 7, 2012
    • Being more aware is a good thing.

      March 7, 2012
      • it is. i keep contact etc details off their sites and use ‘disposable’ e-mail addresses

        March 7, 2012
  19. Honestly, I can barely navigate Facebook enough to check my own page. Last time I tried to send a message I think I entered a chat session and got asked to like everything from designer wedding dresses to christian dating services in a minute flat.

    March 7, 2012
    • Well, just wait until they announce the “improved” news feed, which will look like your current timeline, only it will contain boxes of scrolling ads you did not ask to see.

      March 7, 2012
  20. That’s funny, Andra! I pretty much am all over the place. Probably an advertisers nightmare. I don’t even try to mess with them on purpose – I do it through sheer ignorance!

    I’ve never doubted that FB was anything other than a tool. There are a lot of people who take it too seriously thinking that it’s an evil plot. It may not be evil, but it is a plot, just as you say, to build up advertising.

    Good post, my friend.

    March 7, 2012
    • It upsets me that many people don’t understand this. The information is not broadly reported or easy to find. I am lucky in that I run in circles with people who follow this stuff, helping me better know where to look.

      For pretty much every change in the social media landscape, TechCrunch and Mashable are good sources for learning what is really going on.

      March 7, 2012
  21. Sending you the proverbial “thumbs up” as seen on facebook, but now you’ve made me leary to give you the thumbs up on FB; thus stating it thoroughly here avoiding confusion and fleecing. Hmm, maybe this is a ploy to get us all back to–dare I say it–writing (which bloggers use) or speaking via phone (heaven help us)! Ellen

    March 7, 2012
    • Haha! A lot of people took that approach today. It was a big day on Twitter for me, which is lovely. I still love Twitter.

      I hope this makes us all more purposeful about our interactions.

      March 7, 2012
  22. This is why I use no apps, like nothing that could possibly be considered commercial and publish no link as evidence that I’ve read something on their server. Thank you for the warnings.

    Oh, but the reason nobody comments when someone says they’re having a very, very bad day is because people who post that they’re having a very, very bad day are attention-seekers who deserve to be ignored. ;-)

    March 7, 2012
    • Typically, people do comment, but the ones I see are the fellow complainers who want to chime in and compete on badness of day. :)

      I try to always be positive in cyber space. Sometimes, I fail, but it is an honest failure.

      March 7, 2012
  23. Nice rant, Andra (smiling) I’m oft amazed at how much is shared on FB. I’ve thought about closing mine down, but I manage the library’s account and a yoga studio’s page. Do you ever feel like we just keep weaving a tighter noose with all these webs? Pinterst, twitter, tumblr, google+, linkedin, etc etc… I’m exhausted just typing them all, ha! ~

    March 8, 2012
    • It really is a pain to keep up with them all, and I am sure people are too overwhelmed by it to spend much time following the stuff in all these different places. I cannot close down my FB account, because, should I ever find an agent/publisher, they will make me have one. But, I have decided to clean up my Google+ account and reignite that presence. Lots of the people I’d like to see every day aren’t there, but hopefully they will be soon, when they get sick of not really seeing what they want on FB.

      March 8, 2012
  24. I am so sick of FB now that I would leave if it didn’t mean losing touch with people. But just now reading this post and the comments I reckon I should phase it out, contact all the people I don’t want to lose touch with and direct them to my blog (or good old fashioned email!) and vote with my feet.

    It used to be good, they made it gradually worse and worse and I now no longer have any reason to stay except the easy connectivity, which I now discover is probably very one way. I don’t know whether I get all the updates of all my friends, but I did change my settings to get everyone rather than just those I interact with. But if my friends didn’t there is nothing I can do about it.

    It irritates me when they feel the need to change things to make them so bad they drive me away. It was unnecessary and it harms them. If it was still how it used to be, but with targeted ads I’d be quite happy to stay. It’s the making it less useful for no discernible reason that makes me go, not the privacy issues.

    I’ve always been careful not to share stuff I want to keep private and I actually don’t mind a certain amount of ad targeting. Frankly I would prefer to see ads for stuff I like (whether or not I buy it) than for stuff I dislike! If it’s a choice between using a good site free with a few ads for stuff I like or having to pay to use a site then I’ll take the ads.

    For example, as a crocheter I enjoy Ravelry, a social networking site for yarnies :) It has ads for wool and patterns and all kinds of yarn, which is a good thing, not even a necessary evil!

    But I am disturbed about the comment above about health insure being denied based on a Google search. What evidence did they have that he wasn’t looking up a condition a friend had? Crazy!

    March 8, 2012
    • The Google thing really frightened me, too. MTM told me about it. I need to ask him for a cite. I google crazy things all the time for this blog and for my writing, and I hope people know that things get googled all the time for research and nothing more.

      What I object to is the further blurring of the line between ‘news’ and ‘ads.’ In America, we have the mistaken impression that a mention in a magazine article or a quick blurb on the news somehow gives an endorsement of credibility to the person or thing, when really, we have teams of PR people who pitch these stories and get these slots. Much of our content is little more than disguised ad placement. (I am not condemning PR folks. They are talented, necessary people. I’ve had a lot of success working this system in my own business. I just wish more people understood the workings behind what they read and see every day.)

      Facebook has already announced that they will be inserting ‘sponsored stories’ (read ADS) into the ‘news feed’ (a joke to even call it that anymore), spewing paid-for content into our lives that we didn’t necessarily want to see, while taking away the interactions we valued.

      They don’t see it that way. They will claim that if you interact with someone, you will see them. But, I’ve already worked that system, and it isn’t easy. I have to go looking for people now versus just seeing the random funny thing they say one afternoon when I needed a laugh.

      March 8, 2012
  25. Love it. I don’t have a Facebook page under my actual name for just that reason and almost never use the one I do have (which I got to play Scrabulous). I am creeped out by the way they want me to link up every aspect of my life to it. Clicking perversely is a very appealing idea.

    March 8, 2012

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