Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of sound and fury about how Facebook is allegedly fiddling with the way it filters the news feed to make it harder for brands to get as large an audience for their content as they used to. Billionaire sports-team owner Mark Cuban and former Star Trek actor George Takei are just two of the more prominent users to complain that this tweaking of Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm amounts to a kind of extortion, since it requires users to pay in order to ensure their message reaches their fans. To which the only possible response is: Really? That surprises you? What else did you think Facebook was going to do when it gave you a giant social platform for nothing?
One of the first major complaints came in a piece in the New York Observer that accused the social network of being “broken on purpose.” Not long afterward, a blog called Dangerous Minds wrote a long polemic about how what the social network was doing was “the biggest bait-and-switch in history” — since users (including brands) were enticed to use the service on the understanding that they could use it to build up a giant fan base, and were now being charged for the right to reach those same fans. The cost to do this by paying for sponsored posts, the blog said, was just too exorbitant:
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