Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook as a way to rank pretty college girls on his college campus. It is hard to believe that something with a start like that was able to take over the world. I’ve certainly encountered my share of guys and gals who concocted ways to rank people for different things, and none of them ended up creating a social platform as populated as a small country.
Facebook began 2018 as a hot topic for businesses because Zuckerberg announced that he was going to be changing how Facebook worked. As we discussed previously here on Clutch MOV, Facebook decided to try to boost local stories and people with real-life connections. The result of this change is that business pages have experienced dramatic drops in traffic. Even boosted posts don’t go as far as they used to go.
More recently, Facebook has been in the national and international spotlight, and not for spectacularly positive reasons. It appears that millions of Facebook users were targeted during the 2016 Presidential election with particular ads. Those ads were sent out to people whose personal information had been gathered without their knowledge. You can find a quick and easy-to-understand recap of this scandal via this Fortune article.
A Lack of Control
All of this news has been bothering me. I do not like that the companies using Facebook have to decide to either pay out the nose to get their posts seen or simply go to other platforms. Facebook has never outright said that it is a “pay to play” platform, but on the business side of things, that is essentially what it has become.
On the personal side, I am not at all comfortable with the idea that my data can be made available not through my own actions, but because of the actions of people I’m connected to on Facebook. Even if I never took one of those fun surveys that were actually data gathering missions, my data went to them if one of my friends took that survey.
Based on the onslaught of all of this frightening information, I decided I was going to quit using Facebook. I tried to reach out to as many people as I could, because let’s face it, a lot of people rely entirely on Facebook now to keep in touch with friends and family. I figured I could stay up on local news by getting my weekly email updates and going to various websites to get informed. Facebook seemed shady and scary. I did not want to associate with it anymore.
My job here in Marietta is to plan and execute marketing for close to twenty different companies, many of which are local to the Mid-Ohio Valley. My clients often get mentioned by local organizations because we live in an amazing, supportive, uplifting community. Sometimes they get tagged and sometimes they don’t, so just using the “pages” feed does not pick up every instance of mentions. There are news sites I follow on Facebook that are my best sources for keeping up on things that might impact my clients (or me, for that matter). There are not comparable versions of these Facebook groups and pages anywhere else.
The bottom line is that I realized that for the purposes of my job, I needed to maintain a Facebook presence. There is also the sense of obligation to share news about my clients with the community, and I can only do that on Facebook as myself. Using a dummy account would not have been appropriate.
The personal stuff? OK, yes, I also found my will weakened because I realized I would probably lose touch with a lot of people I keep up with on Facebook. I am in touch with people I have known since nursery school. We don’t have deep heart-to-heart conversations, but I keep up with them, they keep up with me. That sense of staying connected gets depleted rapidly when you try to quit Facebook cold turkey. Sad, but true.
A Necessary Evil
Like so may aspects of our society today, it seems that Facebook has become a necessary evil, at least for marketers and business owners. There are alternatives to explore, but for now, Facebook remains too significant to ignore. Perhaps the Facebook executives know that, and it makes them feel confident that they can get away with anything.
What are your feelings about Facebook? Does the recent news bother you or do you figure that’s just the price we pay for free networking? We’d love to hear from you!