Social Media, Rumors, Fake News…What are the facts?

We need to chat about social media today, specifically all the rumors, fake news, and crazy memes on Facebook. I LOVE social media and marketing, and any opportunity for teaching, so here we go…

(Kathryn presenting at Marine Creek Creative Writing Conference, Nov 2018)

…but, fair warning, I’m a bit out of patience, and I may have made a snarky reply to a meme on a friend’s page last week regarding what Facebook is unrolling, suddenly charging for, or deleting off of personal timelines and business pages. (Thankfully, my friend quickly accepted my apology and deleted the post.) Good outcome from that awkward exchange is that it caused me to address and research some of those things that have been making me crazy… and now we have this post.

Let’s talk facts. Once again let me remind you, if you see something on any social media platform that causes you to feel gut-punched or to have a knee-jerk reaction, it’s probably written for that very reason, and there’s a very high likelihood it’s not true or it includes facts taken out of context (like the current meme about Marie Kondo saying we only need thirty books–blasphemy! but not exactly what she meant in the context of her show). Take a minute to pick up your smartphone, “Hey Google” or “hey Siri,” and do a basic fact check. Snopes, That’sNonsense, and other fact-checking sites, include big lists of urban myths dealing with the various social media platforms.

  1. This meme is being shared again. Some version of it has been floating around since at least 2009 according to my very quick Google search. I just googled images with the key words from this picture and found a decade worth of text and images that have been shared, all expressing urgency and encouraging followers to like, comment, or share. There are routine cleanups on all platforms to delete bots, sub4subs, and paid followers. From my friend’s experience of number drops in her business Facebook group, this explanation makes sense. However, Facebook is NOT deleting inactive group members just for the heck of it (check out this ThatsNonsense.com article for a better explanation of what’s actually happening). I for one agree that inactive users should be deleted, as both a follower and a social media marketer.
  • As a friend and follower, it’s frustrating to have friends invite me into a group and then suddenly I get all the sales and promo stuff whether I want it or not. Case in point –those selling certain MLM products. I dislike many of those companies on so many levels, and do not want to be force-fed their sales and marketing stuff. So I’m happy that that’s no longer an option for new distributors, many of whom were following their upline’s instructions and not realizing that involuntary group inclusion is unethical (in the EU it’s illegal).
  • As a social media marketer, I also want to ensure that my followers are there because they want to be there and are actually engaging with me. If I have a thousand followers but only 200 are active, and I’m trying to market to all of thousand, that’s a waste of my time and resources. I’m better off focusing on the 200 that truly want my services. And anyone who does serious online marketing knows that a lot of these large numbers are either bots, paid for, or are sub4sub, and NOT true customers. I look to see how many comments or how many likes are involved, not how many followers somebody has. Large engagement is the key to success, not a big number of followers.

2. Facebook is NOT reading some legal mumbo jumbo anyone copies and pastes on their timeline revoking rights that they actually agreed to when they clicked “I agree” to their updated terms and policies which they may or may not have read (currently listed under “Terms of Service” section 3.3, which also says we have the right to revoke that permission at any time by deleting our content and account). We often forget that Facebook is a business, it generates profits on advertising, and we as individuals are being allowed to use this platform for free. If you don’t like it, you have the right to send a help or comment directly to the good people at Facebook, or you may delete your account and go play on some other platform. Your choice. However, considering how many people use Facebook, you will definitely be left out of the conversation. According to the Facebook Newsroom,

  • 1.49 billion daily active users on Facebook on average for September 2018

  • 2.27 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of September 30, 2018

And, no, you canNOT bypass any algorithms by asking friends to copy and past anything.

3. This next one is apparently the current favorite copy & paste floating around…

Facebook is NOT limiting your timeline to only 25 friends, and getting them to like or comment will NOT reset your friends list allowing you to see everybody. What Facebook has been saying and doing for at least the last year is trying to encourage more communication among friends and family and less business posts by putting posts with more engagement (that means reactions, comments, and shares) at the top of your timeline / news feed. I think that’s a good thing. I’ve also posted on my Facebook page how you can go into settings and change your choices so you see the most recent posts rather than the posts Facebook thinks you want to see.

Think about how many friends you have liked on your Facebook timeline. If each post was in chronological, rolling order like it was when FB first went public over a decade ago, there is no way we could keep up. Talk about information/opinion overload! So based on the people and topics you most often engage with (remember ENGAGE means reacting –👍❤🤣😮😢😠–, commenting, or sharing), FB prioritizes those types of status updates in your newsfeed in order to help you out. If you are tired of seeing something or someone’s posts, you may hide the post or person, or unfollow them as a friend. Or, easier yet, stop engaging with things you don’t want to see more of. Data Doctors explains this more thoroughly.

Facebook is by far the largest social media platform, and also owns Instagram, so it affects over a billion of us. If you’re interested in digging a deeper, I encourage you to follow the Facebook Newsroom, or their Twitter feed @Facebook. Did you know there’s such a thing? Facebook, like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitch, and all the other social media platforms, is a business and is truly trying to please its customers, not trying to pull a fast one on us. I have found that they are forthcoming and helpful in the Facebook Newsroom and on various legit news outlets and YouTube tech channels. You can find all kinds of interesting stuff there. If you’re interested in information about all the social media platforms, I also suggest you to look at Social Media Today.

Ok, now, go forth and spread truth. I would love for you to share this instead of the memes listed above, or in response to them. Let’s lovingly educate our friends and loved ones so we don’t have to keep seeing the fake news.

If you have any other questions regarding social media that I can answer or research (y’all know I love any excuse to commit research), please let me know. Comment below, email me at KathrynMcClatchy@gmail.com, or Tweet me @K_McClatchy. Use #hashkickers on any platform when you share my posts or want to catch my attention.