“Shields up, Captain!”
George Takei is a man after my own heart. As Wired’s Ryan Tate reports in “Family Feud: Tense Thanksgiving for Facebook and George Takei,” the iconic Star Trek actor and political activist is about to publish a new book and apparently he’s preparing a chapter about his frustrations with social network Facebook:
Takei, whose page has nearly 3 million followers on the social network, says in a Facebook post that his forthcoming book Oh Myyy will include an entire chapter devoted to Facebook’s filtering of page posts using an algorithm called EdgeRank and its parallel practice of charging page owners to reduce EdgeRank filtering. Takei made the announcement while replying to another Facebook user who wrote a jeremiad against the filtering. Takei has been outspoken about his frustration with the filtering, which essentially forces him to pay Facebook if he wants to reach all of his own fans.
“I am writing a chapter in my book Oh Myyy about Edgeranking and what I have done to try and achieve higher engagement,” Takei writes. “I am curious as to why interactivity rates on my page appear to fluctuate so much when I have done nothing different. I have not been pressured to use Promoted Pages [advertising], but I have had to take active steps to get fans to add my page to their ‘Interests’ so that it has a higher likelihood of appearing in their newsfeed.”
Takei’s book is slated for release sometime around Thanksgiving, keeping alive a controversial issue that just won’t die. Earlier this fall, the blog Dangerous Minds and the author Ryan Holiday both published rants accusing Facebook of aggressively filtering posts from Facebook pages in order to get owners of the pages to pony up for advertising to escape the filtering. Facebook told our sister site Ars Technica that, regardless of whether the author has paid for promotion, a post can be suppressed if readers fail to interact with the post or if they respond negatively.
Ryan’s conclusion, if you ask me, forecasts an unpleasant future for Facebook:
It’s a complex and wonky issue, one that Facebook might reasonably expect might fade away into confusing arguments involving talk of algorithms, analytics, reach, and viral lift. Except it’s not going to fade away with Sulu from Star Trek beaming his detailed analysis of the situation into people’s Kindles, iPhones and iPads this holiday season along with cute animal pictures. Lending celebrity cred to the topic Facebook filtering is certainly a boon to advocates of internet transparency, but, if Takei’s past frustration is anything to go buy, it will be no gift to Facebook.
No, it certainly won’t be. It will be a public relations disaster of epic proportions.
This is turning into a real “thing.” A thing Facebook’s management team have foolishly not nipped in the bud yet with a Netflix-style mea culpa and an abrupt reversal of their unpopular policy of “promoted posts.”
First it will be George Takei, then the indie bands will start to say “fuck Facebook,” too. They already are.
I don’t think Facebook realizes just how angry the public is. Facebook is only going to get ONE chance to lance this festering boil and if they fumble the ball this time, I believe it could be fatal to their beleaguered stock price. What credible stock analyst would think Facebook is a “buy” with Lieutenant Sulu waging a pop culture jihad against the company?
Previously on Dangerous Minds: