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From The Blog:

December 11, 2017

All I want for Christmas is an unFUBARed SM feed

FUBAR
acronym

  1. Google it.

FUBARed SM feed
noun phrase

  1. A social media (SM) platform feed that is not a chronological list of all posts, and only those posts.

I am sick of social media platforms deciding for me what I should see. (Read this entire post for a rare exception.)

Every major social media platform started with a simple chronological feed of all the posts from all the people you chose to follow/be “friends” with.

But every platform subsequently FUBARed their social media feed. They dropped some posts entirely, and added content that you had never asked for.

  • Facebook’s news feed has been FUBARed since 2009.
  • YouTube has been messing around with search ranking of videos since 2012.
  • LinkedIn’s homepage feed became FUBARed in 2016, when the company folded in its “Pulse” content.
  • Twitter’s timeline got FUBARed in 2016. (You can turn off their adding “tweets you are likely to care about most”, but they still insert tweets “we think you might be interested in” into your timeline.)
  • Instagram stopped chronologically listing posts in 2016.
  • Google Plus has fussed around with its home feed algorithm for several years, but it doesn’t matter because — and I wish this wasn’t true — Google Plus is dead.

Here are three reasons SM channels do this. Feel free to add more in the comments.

  1. They want to add sponsored paid content (aka advertisements) so they can make money.
  2. They want to create incentives (like “boosting” your Facebook posts) to pay them to let more people see your posts.
  3. They know that some of their users — the ones who “friend” or “follow” everyone — would quickly withdraw from their service if the resulting torrent of requested posts were actually provided.

No one likes reason #1 but we understand why SM platforms do it. They need to make money to stay in business. Fair enough.

Reason #2 is really damaging to the concept of a SM channel as a reliable communications tool. Old media doesn’t have this option: when you buy the paper or watch TV you receive the same content as everyone else. But today, two users who follow the exact same people on Facebook may see very different feeds, thanks to Facebook’s secret and ever-changing algorithm. Essentially, Facebook makes the feed unreliable so the company can make additional revenues. I find this unreliability infuriating, and it’s why I use Facebook as little as possible.

Reason #3 is understandable — but what’s annoying is there’s no way to turn this behavior off! It would be easy for SM channels to default to their algorithmic filtering but provide an option for users to say, “Just give me everything I’ve said I wanted to see. Yes, I know I’ll still get all the ads you insert, but I’d really like not to miss anything else.” I guess that they worry too many people would choose to see everything, and the incentive for organizations to pay them to boost content eyeballs would be reduced. In fact, I suspect that only a small percentage of users (like me) would pick this option.

Ultimately, I want a social media channel that doesn’t filter. I suspect I’m not alone. Let me pick what I want to see, and let me see it. All of it.

Is that too much to ask?

A reward for those who’ve read this far — an unFUBARed SM feed!
I know one way to get an unFUBARed SM feed. From Twitter, no less — use Twitter Lists! If you create a private Twitter list of people whose tweets you want to see, you can view the resulting stream on Twitter at https://twitter.com/YourTwitterID/lists/NameOfYourList or via other Twitter clients like TweetDeck and the list is chronological and unfiltered! (Please don’t tell ’em; they’d probably FUBAR it immediately.)

Do you know other ways to get unFUBARed SM feeds? Feel free to share in the comments!