We’ve all grown accustomed to “learning” about people through the endless stream of updates flowing through our Facebook news feeds. I can easily tell you which of my acquaintances are excited that pumpkin spice lattes are back in stores. Based on my news feed, I’m also pretty sure that Thailand is “in” when it comes to international travel. And, for better or for worse (answer: worse!), I can also tell you what certain people cooked for dinner Every.Single.Night.This.Week.
As a concept, news feed intrigues me. It brings an accidental sense of discovery to using the social networking site since you aren’t actively seeking out specific people’s profiles. I just scroll down for a bit, and wow, news that I didn’t MEAN to learn that about someone: Facebook made me look! And Facebook keeps “making us look” in new ways. First there were promoted posts from brands and organizations. Somewhat annoying, not especially surprising. And sort of fun to see which companies target you! Then came the option to highlight your closest friends so they showed up more often on your news feed and got prime territory near the top of your feed. That feature makes a lot of sense to me- I’ve never quite figured out how Facebook decides who to tell me about- but I haven’t actually bothered to use it.
A Mashable article published today revealed that Facebook just introduced a whole new way to mess with our news feeds: self-promotion. Some would argue that Facebook is just one big tool for self promotion anyway, but this takes it even further. Soon, commoners like you and I will be able to PAY to promote our own content. Yes, you heard me right: you would pay to promote your facebook updates. Worried there won’t be enough likes on that cute picture of you and your boyfriend? Just pay a bit of money and your picture is suddenly top bill for your facebook crew. Concerned that you won’t make enough people jealous about your recent trip to Hawaii? Pay a litlte dough and shazam: your comments about enjoying a delicious mai tai at Waikiki are at top of everyone’s news feed (also known as their “passive stalking” feed).
As was wont to happen, there’s already some outcry about how this changes the character of Facebook. To some critics, this means the end of the Facebook meritocracy as we know it. One Mashable critic went so far as to suggest that this is going to create inflated demand and build up pressure for people to pay to get noticed. Etc etc.
Which really begs the question: does it matter? Does it matter if 10 people see your post vs. 20? Does it matter if you have the most likes? We all say no, but we do know we love the attention. I definitely like getting “likes.” Just like I love it when I see a lot of hits on my blog. So I get it. But do you REALLY think that this change is going to push the Facebook world into pure and utter chaos, soon to be overtaken by the wealthy elite? I just don’t think so. I don’t stop calling friends to say hi because I’ve seen so many of their status updates I think I know everything there is to know. And I would hope my friends feel the same way about me.
So friends, please take heed: I will never pay to promote my Facebook activity. If you want to see what I’m up to and it’s not ridiculously easily accessible high up there on your news feed… I guess you’re just going to have to make some effort to type my name into the search box and click a couple times. It’s a tough life, my friends.