and the Devil himself...

and the Devil himself...
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Facebook Doesn't Just Suck... It's Kinda Creepy Too

When I first discovered Facebook, I thought it was pretty cool. I also thought it was free (and always would be, I mean hey, they say that, right?), that the info on the page was my own, (being, you know, mine and all... photos, writing etc) and that it would be a fresh, new alternative to MySpace.

Sure, I missed having an mp3 player at the top of my page since I'm a musician, and I also missed having a blog right there... and my MySpace page looked way cooler with the whole background option and all but still, it seemed basically the same function-wise and hey, more of my family and friends from high school & stuff were on there. So, with a little wistful regret, I settled for a ReverbNation page to keep the mp3 player and blog function and a Facebook page for the social media function. I thought, (and still do) it was kinda ridiculous to not be able to just have both but, oh well.

I've gone from liking it to having a like-hate relationship with it to just plain hating it. Where's the new start-up that replaces it like MySpace did to Friendster and Facebook did to MySpace? Please come rescue us! And don't say Google Plus. You know you never check it and neither does anyone else.

Honestly, I think it's a great example of the Book of Revelation's warning that something will come and seem good but actually isn't. 

Why? It's not what I signed up for! Yes, you agree to abide by Facebook's rules and regulations when you sign up but what they don't tell you is THEY CONSTANTLY CHANGE THE RULES and they don't tell you. You're notified of these changes by losing functionality or, worst case scenerio, having your page just poof! Deleted. Again, without warning. So, no time to save your photos or notes or a list of your friends - just gone and no access for you to any of that any more. You know who DOES still have access? Facebook does.

So, since they don't tell you themselves, I'm listing the rules (or some of them anyway, as they're known to date - they may well change again tomorrow, or in a few hours...) so you don't have to learn the hard way, as I did.

1. Are you a popular artist or venue and you've already reached your 5,000 friends limit? Meet new people at shows or otherwise make new friends in the real world and want to include them? Don't want to delete existing friends, family and fans? Making a new page would be a time consuming but viable solution but no. You're not allowed to have more than one Facebook page. If you do, you run the risk of waking up to no more FB pages at all and starting from scratch.

2. Want former school mates to be able to find you by your nickname or are you an artist with a stage name and you want fans to be able to find you? Too bad. You must use your literal, actual name or, again, FB can delete you without warning. Actual stalkers who create fake profiles to stalk and be a danger to society have almost 0 chance of being caught with an 'illegal' FB page. Artists with odd stage names? They'll probably not let you start it with that name in the first place/it'll be too unusual to be an 'actual name'.

3. Facebook DOES offer an alternative to this, the 'artist' or 'business' page. Here, you can have 'fans' instead of friends and there's no limit to the number. Awesome! You as an artist or business may say. This way I can add as many people as I like (NOPE, they have to add you - no friend request function on an artist/business page)... ok well, that way I can invite my fans to my show! NOPE new rule says you can only invite 100 people to events. But you just invited a bunch more than that? Well, probably because they can't entirely control your ability to click people who already signed up for your updates, they have a back-up loophole - you can't have more than 300 invites pending - or, guess what, you lose the ability to use event invites.

So, if you love say, Neil Gaiman and love getting his event invites but don't always feel like clicking 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'.... leave it un-clicked and you're potentially impeding your favorite author's ability to let his fans know about his next book signing.

4. But, they don't block it forever do they? Well, they say you can invite again once more people respond to the event. That's right. To the event that has already taken place. But don't they have a way to repeat the event? YES they do! But you can't do that under the above circumstances, you lose that functionality too. Weird right? And they already have a way for people to block invites from a user (with no penalty to the user) if they don't want to send them - so they're not doing this to prevent unwanted invites - there's already a way to prevent them. What's the point? I find myself asking that about most of Facebook's rules.

5. Now, back to the friend issue - which is, of course, the whole point of Facebook and which, as I've said above, Facebook nonetheless limits. New to an area and want to add people who seem like they'd be cool/like they would actually be your friend in real life/who are friends of friends/same interests etc? Are you a writer who wants to add friends of your magazine? Anything similar? New page and you want, you know, to have people on it? Don't add more than 30 a day or, guess what, Facebook takes away your ability to send invites.

How do they know? Well, they have this weird little thing that asks people if they know you outside of Facebook. Weird right? I mean, if people don't know you and don't want to add you the can just not add you. Why does Facebook need to be involved in the process in any direct way?

What happens then is, or in my experience, this - I'm a musician with a high-ranking ReverbNation page (it's #10 in Nashville for Americana so a lot of people see it). I write this blog, (which dizzy's me with it's monthly traffic) and also for Outlaw Magazine and Fine Art Magazine. My Great-Uncle was a well known Pulp Fiction writer, (he basically made up Spider Man) and I host a page about him too. All link to my Facebook page. Why? So that people who are into what I do can find me, of course. And they do find me - about 10 people a day in fact. I haven't sent a friend request in over 6 mos. And when I do meet someone I want to add, at a show or wherever, I can't because FB has blocked my ability to send Friend Requests, (that's right, even without my making any).

How? Well, Facebook asks me when I accept the requests I get whether I know the person outside of Facebook. I assume the other person is asked that too (I've forgotten since it's been so long since I could make a friend request). Not going through the thought process of yes, if they know my writing, or music, or my Great-Uncle's writing they then know me outside of this little site they click no. Facebook has some kind of limit on that, as with invites, that then penalizes me. Yep. I'm penalized because too many people find me outside of Facebook then don't understand what the weird question means or why it's there. So, when you see that, as a wise friend suggested to me, don't click it.

And when you get an invite - respond, even if it's to decline.

Other Facebook rules you might not be aware of - including you have to use a 3rd party App to do a promotion - this is giving me a headache, I can't write about it anymore without becoming too overwhelmed with anger. And I wouldn't be angry if I'd known all of this when I signed up for it. Or if Facebook sent emails out telling us about the new changes so penalties could be avoided. But no. I guess that would be too, well functional for users. 

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