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Vlogger says he has proof that Facebook’s ad program is a fraud

(Social Media) Facebook has upset businesses by showing the status updates on their Pages to fewer people unless they pony up, but one vlogger says he has proof that even if you pay, the followers are illegitimate.

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Do you operate a Facebook Page?

Because you read AG, you already know that Facebook is changing their algorithm in what they called an effort to improve news feeds, surfacing “higher quality” content to users that they are more likely to click on based on their current behavior on the site, nixing memes and promoting news, based on their research indicating that users don’t want cat pictures, they want stories about Syria. Interesting.

Facebook says they’ll be displaying “relevant” articles underneath links in the news feed, so that content will be exposed to people interested in that related content, but Facebook has openly admitted that the organic reach of Facebook Pages is dropping. That means that if you have 10,000 likes, unless you pay to be seen by Facebook users, they may only show 100 people an update you post, despite 10,000 indicating they want information from you in their news feed.

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The science video blog (vlog), Veritasium took the time to create a video explanation of why the dip in organic reach is a bunch of garbage. We projected that this move by Facebook would push more businesses into the Google+ economy in coming months.

Enter the Facebook fraud allegations

Fast forward to today and Veritasium is at it again, explaining in very simple terms how they feel they have proof that the Facebook advertising program is a fraud. The tale involves testing fake Pages, analyzing user counts and their geography, and comparing these notes to the Facebook Pages of major brands. Take a ten minute break to watch the whole thing so we can discuss:

How do you feel about this? Are you in the camp that believes that Facebook is a free service, so they can do as they wish, or are you in the camp that believes this to be a fraud of unmeasured proportions?

Please tell us in the comments below your thoughts about the video and if you’ve had any similar experiences with your own Pages.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Brady Pevehouse

    February 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    While you can’t fault Facebook for this dilemma, you would think they would be more proactive in ensuring the success of their paying advertisers. I believe this is why the Facebook trend is slowing fading. Users are tired of being hit with so many ads, and businesses (big and small) are tired of zero, real quantifiable return on investment. The value of a like is probably close to 5 cents in generated revenue in my opinion.
    So unless you are a movie star who benefits by garnering support for your premier and first week sales, what is the benefit of paid advertising on Facebook?

    Until Facebook wakes up and realizes they have diminished their real and potential value by allowing, and “PROFITING” from such practices, they will continue to be less relevant. Just my opinion..

    Could the fact that your ad campaign was depleted by users out of your specifically requested advertising area, be cause for concern. Could this be a potential class action suit due to Facebook profiting from fraudulent out of area clicks. Do you have anything that could be quantified and verified in court that countries out of your advertising areas were the known cost of your ad budget? I imagine a smart attorney may see a huge benefit in this….. if so, call me. I’ve wasted plenty of money advertising on Facebook before realizing my expense had no returns.

    • davemill

      February 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      “While you can’t fault Facebook for this dilemma…”
      Ummm…you believe that Facebook does not understand this reality even better than the guy in the video? They understand it , they profit from it, and therefore they are to blame. Welcome to the real world.

  2. chrisshouse

    February 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Wow! Who would have thought these things up…I did not even know click farms existed. Hmmm I guess I am just not devious minded…we have already determined I am not a liar!

  3. dobeman

    February 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I can see both sides, but the majority of advertisers (or the ones making the budgeting decisions) aren’t experts at Facebook advertising (and Twitter and LinkedIn and (insert social media site name here) and as much as we’d like to, we can’t all run multiple ad tests, all well-designed by talented graphics departments. It’s been obvious for more than a year what Facebook’s plans are and while my paid ads to generate significantly more interest, I doubt it’s any more than it would if Facebook actually showed my posts to my full audience.

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Social Media

Instagram announces 3 home feed options, including chronological order

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is allowing users to choose how their home feed appears so they can tailor their own experience… and chronological is back!

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Instagram home feed options

Break out the bottle of champagne, because they are bringing back the chronological order in Instagram!

About time, right? Well, that’s not all. Per Protocol, Instagram has announced that they are rolling out three feed options in the first half of 2022. What?! Yes, you read that right.

3 New Feed View Options

  1. Home: This feed view should feel familiar because it’s the algorithm you already use. No changes to this view.
  1. Favorites: This feed view option presents a nice and tidy way to view creators, friends, and family of your choosing.
  1. Following: Last, but not least, is my favorite re-boot, the chronological view of every account that you follow.

Per Protocol, recent legal allegations have been made that Instagram and Facebook have been prioritizing content viewed as harmful in the algorithm and specifically in Instagram. Instagram is widely believed to be harmful to teens. Per the American Psychological Association, “Studies have linked Instagram to depression, body image concerns, self-esteem issues, social anxiety, and other problems”.  They have been under scrutiny by lawmakers and in response are posing the chronological feed as a solution.

However, this won’t fix everything. Even if the algorithm isn’t prioritizing harmful posts, those posts will still exist and if that account is followed it can still be seen. The other issue with this solution is the knowledge that unless Instagram lets you choose your default feed view, they could still cause the algorithm view to be the automatic view. Facebook doesn’t allow you to make the chronological feed your default view. This means you would need to choose that view every time. This bit of friction means there will be times it is overlooked and some may not even know the functionality exists. Knowing this information about Facebook, prepares us for what’s to come with Instagram. After all, Facebook, or Meta, owns both.

While as an entrepreneur, the chronological view excites me, I know the reality of it being used is questionable. I would love to know others can see the products and services I offer instead of hoping that Instagram finds my content worthy to share in the algorithm.

As a human being with a moral conscience, I have to scream, “C’mon Instagram, you CAN do better!” We all deserve better than having a computer pick what’s shown to us. Hopefully, lawmakers will recognize this band-aid quick fix for what it truly is and continue with making real changes to benefit us all.

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Facebook’s targeting options for advertising are changing this month

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Do you market your business on Facebook? You need to know that their targeting options for ads are changing and what to do about it.

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Laptop on lap open to Facebook page representing ad targeting.

Meta is transforming Facebook’s ad campaigns beginning January 19th. Facebook, which has been infamously battling criticism regarding election ads on their platform, is revising its limited targeting ad campaigns. Per this Facebook blog post, these changes eliminate the ability to target users based on interactions with content related to health (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”), race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religious practices (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”) and sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”).

These changes go into effect on January 19, 2022. Facebook will no longer allow new ads to use these targeting tools after that date. By March 17, 2022, any existing ads using those targeting tools will no longer be allowed.

The VP of Ads and Business Product Marketing at Facebook, Graham Mudd, expressed the belief that personalized ad experiences are the best, but followed up by stating:

“[W]e want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.”

To help soften the blow, Facebook is offering tips and examples for small businesses, non-profits, and advocacy groups to continue to reach their audiences that go beyond the broad targeting of gender and age.

These tips include creating different types of targeting such as Engagement Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, Website Custom Audiences, Location Targeting, and Customer Lists from a Custom Audience.

Here’s the lowdown on how it will happen.

Per the Search Engine Journal, changes can be made to budget amounts or campaign names without impacting the targeting until March 17th. However, if you go to change the ad set level that will then cause changes at the audience level.

If you need to keep that particular ad to reuse, it may be best to edit the detailed targeting settings before March 17th in order to ensure you can make changes to it in the future.

I believe it was Heraclitus that declared change is constant. Knowing this, we can conclude other social platforms may follow suit and possibly adjust their targeting in the future as well.

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Hate speech seemingly spewing on your Facebook? You’re not wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook (now Meta) employees estimate its AI tools only clean up 3%-5% of hate speech on the platform. Surprise, Surprise *eye roll*

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Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device for hate speech.

As Facebook moves further toward Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, concerns about the efficiency with which the company addresses hate speech still remain, with employees recently estimating that only around 2% of offending materials are removed by Facebook’s AI screening tools.

According to Wall Street Journal, internal documents from Facebook show an alarming inability to detect hate speech, violent threats, depictions of graphic content, and other “sensitive” issues via their AI screening. This directly contradicts predictions made by the company in the past.

A “senior engineer” also admitted that, in addition to removing only around 2% of inappropriate material, the odds of that number reaching even a numerical majority is extremely unlikely: “Recent estimates suggest that unless there is a major change in strategy, it will be very difficult to improve this beyond 10-20% in the short-medium term.”

The reported efficacy of the AI in question would be laughable were the situation less dire. Reports ranging from AI confusing cockfights and car crashes to inaccurately identifying a car wash video as a first-person shooting are referenced in the internal documents, while far more sobering imagery–live-streamed shootings, viscerally graphic car wrecks, and open threats of violence against transgender children–went entirely unflagged.

Even the system in which the AI works is a source of doubt for employees. “When Facebook’s algorithms aren’t certain enough that content violates the rules to delete it, the platform shows that material to users less often—but the accounts that posted the material go unpunished,” reports Wall Street Journal.

AI has repeatedly been shown to struggle with bias as well. Large Language Models (LLMs)–machine-learning algorithms that inform things like search engine results and predictive text–have defaulted to racist or xenophobic rhetoric when subjected to search terms like “Muslim”, leading to ethical concerns about whether or not these tools are actually capable of resolving things like hate speech.

As a whole, Facebook employees’ doubts about the actual usefulness of AI in removing inappropriate material (and keeping underage users off of the platform) paint a grim portrait of the future of social media, especially as the Metaverse marches steadily forward in mainstream consumption.

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