Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Mussels in vinegar

A recipe for a Social Media experience

A column not for the fainthearted

Recently I commented on a picture, posted on Facebook. The picture showed somebody’s hand, holding a mussel, over dinner. Its caption said: "Seek the ten differences". For those with a dirty mind like mine, this needs no further explanation.

I commented on this photo. Of course I did, that’s me! One of the differences, I stated, was that funny looking hard shell, which was new to me. A short and hilarious conversation followed in the comments on this post. It needs no elaboration that these comments were mostly equivocal of sort, but at the same time, not a single word or expression was of an explicit "adult" nature.

Much to my surprise, within TEN minutes after the initial post, it was completely removed from Facebook. Facebook takes its censorship of citizens pretty seriously, I gather!

At first I just really had to laugh about this. It was a funny, although very short, entertaining event, of which unfortunately the proof had gone AWOL before I could tell anyone about it. Without the actual post and comments, the story possibly lacks it’s strength a little.

But then it made me wonder: How does this work with other posts on Facebook? How much is “censored” without us knowing? Then, another occurrence struck me: In conversations with other Facebook users, I noticed that they do not always see my posts. Apparently, Facebook finds it necessary to prioritize posts for us. Facebook decides which posts by your “friends” you get to see and which ones you don’t. Hhhmmm, that’s odd?

Apparently, upon profiles, interests, common subjects and what have you, Facebook decides what’s good for you and what isn’t. It is not hard to understand that Facebook also includes criteria from their “sponsors” (Read: Income generating advertisers) to edit your time line accordingly, i.e. show only those posts in a time line which are favourable to the advertisers.

How "Social" is that? Your view on what your friends are communicating out to the world (and therewith out to you) seems to be moulded into what Facebook wants you to see. Moreover, Facebook is not telling you that they do this. So as far as you are concerned, you think you see a reflection of what your friends are sharing with you, which, without you or your friends knowing so, is maybe only half the truth, maybe even less. Who knows (other than Facebook)?

This is where today, and maybe much more so in the future, Facebook goes sour.
Mussels, yes, but in acerbic vinegar, as far as I am concerned.

Michael Vrijhoef

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