Asides from eating up half of the internet, allowing Russian spammers to spread fake news during the most important election in recent US history, and doing its best to punish legitimate websites from reaching their audience (ours included), Facebook has started to really, really suck. From a user's perspective, the social media outlet is getting worse and worse.
The social network started out as a groundbreaking way to stay in touch with people, then became the main social and political center for, well, pretty much everything. You could follow people you were interested in, get involved in interesting debates, generate traffic for your blog by sharing posts from it, and even start a business from it.
Every time I log onto Facebook now though, I'm shown a conversation from a day or two ago by a friend I may have briefly interacted with over the past week that I have absolutely nothing to do with. I'm shown random posts that are not in any sort of chronological order that I'm not interested in whatsoever. All the sites and pages I follow in no longer show up on my feed (unless I've interacted with it in the past week or so), and I'm stuck scrolling through my feed to dig for something -- anything -- that I'm vaguely interested in. This isn't a knock on any of my friends, but I rarely see anything they post because they are all experiencing the same thing I am and have left the social network in favor of, well, anything other than Facebook.
This has been my experience of using Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild for the past few month or so, and it has converted me from being a big fan of the platform to (almost) an outright hater. Teenagers are fleeing from Facebook to Instagram and Twitter where you can a) follow people or brands you like b) see their posts in chronological order and c) not be subjected to completely random algorithm changes that seem to prioritize what ads they see rather than whom they want to follow. And if the kids are leaving, it's a sure sign that something is going very, very wrong at the network.
What was once a truly dynamic platform that allowed people to build useful social networks and promote their companies has now turned into a saccharine community messaging board manipulated by algorithms designed to sell you things Facebook believes you are interested in. Which is fine -- everyone has to make a living -- but my goodness is it obvious.
According to Facebook, they want you to spend less time scrolling on Facebook and more time interacting with friends and family, thus the culling of the newsfeed and the drastic reduction in videos. This is probably a good thing if it weren't for the fact they are destroying legitimate, unique publishers in the process and deciding which friends they think you might want to interact with based on algorithms that change from one month to the next and deliver almost entirely different experiences every time you log on. Facebook is a place where content now goes to die, and friends leave because no one understands how it is supposed to work.
For those of us who want to engage in interesting conversations, read thought provoking websites, and put our own thoughts out there into the ether for other people to listen to, there is no nowhere to go. Instagram and Twitter are not designed to foster meaningful interactions, and while Facebook has apparently been designed to do just that, their recent iteration of the world's largest social media platform has failed spectacularly.
I say all of this not because I want to hate Facebook -- I genuinely think it has the potential to do a lot of good in the world. I say it because I have become profoundly disappointed in the company that claimed it wanted to connect the world. Not only did it help create one of the most polarizing elections in US history by failing to monitor those abusing it, its steps to remedy the problems have simply made them worse. I don't see updates from people I disagree with or from sources I follow because algorithms have determined I am not interested in them. While I may not engage with crazy uncle Jim who believes in arming unborn fetuses, I still like knowing what he is up to and glancing at the idiotic things he posts. The bubble has gotten even worse, which makes the prospect of the 2020 election even more terrifying.
Can Silicon Valley or some genius billionaire please resolve this? I'm eager to waste more time online, but now have nowhere to do it. Mark Zuckerberg, if you're listening, I'd take Fake News over this.