Facebook is NOT censoring you! (Part 1)

I would love to say “I’m only going to say this once,” but I know better. I know tomorrow I am going to turn around and see someone else complaining that Facebook is censoring their posts. So I will go ahead and say it again. Facebook is NOT censoring you.

facebook-profileThey really aren’t. Facebook is to busy being a $350 Billion business to care what you post. The only time an actual post gets blocked or banned is when another Facebook user complains about it. Even with all their resources, they could not afford to hire enough people to read all the content being posted and decide if it should be blocked.

But that’s not what I hear people complaining about. These people are complaining that their posts are not reaching their fans and followers. They call it censorship, or Facebook “controlling” what their customers are seeing.

Now I don’t know if they are sensationalizing the situation or they really don’t understand how this works. I am going to assume the latter and try to explain it over the next few articles.

As I said before, Facebook is a business. That, by definition, means they need to make a profit. Not want to. Need to.

Of course, a profit is when income exceeds expenses. And in case you didn’t know, Facebook has A LOT of expenses. Servers, storage, custom software, Internet bandwidth, and the myriad of components and people necessary to keep everything running so that you can post a picture of the BLT and chips you had for lunch today is very, very expensive.

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that Facebook’s source of income is advertising. They use the same model as broadcast TV, where you get broadcast TV to your television for free, but you are exposed to advertisements to pay for it.

There is something you need to understand about this model. Facebook users and television users are NOT the customer. Advertisers are the customers.

Facebook users are the product.

Think about that for a second. Advertisers want people to view their ads. That is what Facebook is selling: “advertisement viewers.”

Facebook’s goal is to have as many “advertising viewers” (i.e. online Facebook users) as possible. To do this, they need to keep their Facebook users happily staying on Facebook and not on other websites.

And they need to serve ads to the Facebook users to cover expenses and earn themselves a profit. Which is where it gets tricky.

Facebook users generally don’t like ads. If there are too many ads, they will go to a different site.

So Facebook needs to find a balance. They need to provide users with enough relevant content to keep them on the Facebook website while providing just the right amountĀ ads to provide a profit without driving all of their users to another competing social media site.

This is not easy to do, but Facebook has really done a masterful job of balancing this. They do this, partially, by asking Facebook users what they want. Then they do their best to put that into each user’s News Feed so that they will stay on Facebook longer.

In the next article, I will get into how Facebook determines what to put in a user’s News Feed.


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