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How Facebook's bait-and-switch dupes users

Nick Bilton (via NYT/ SMH) | March 4, 2013
Facebook appears to be suppressing posts unless users pay hefty fees, writes Nick Bilton.

"It's not just that people will feel nickeled and dimed by this, it's that ultimately the value of the product disappears as the stream of information in your social network, one that used to be rapid and friction free, is no longer there and now consumed by advertising," McQuivey said.

When I asked Avichal Garg, another product manager for Facebook's news feed, why my interaction count dropped so sharply, he said the company clearly needed to improve its algorithm.

"It's really not in our best interest to take out the most engaging stuff and replace it with ads," he said. "We want to make sure we show the right content to the right people." Facebook's ability to control the algorithm puts it in a different position from its competitors.

Twitter has the same type of advertising module, called the sponsored tweet, but although the company might highlight the ad within a user's stream, it does not suppress other people's content in the process. Everything just falls into a time-based stream.

Facebook may become dominant enough that its actions vex regulators, then it may be forced to change what it highlights in news feeds. Or, maybe the people who use the service will grow so tired of what seems like another bait-and-switch that they will decide to stop sharing, even if it seems to be free.

 

 

 

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