Coffee heat rising

Exit Facebook, Stage Left

This afternoon I lost my temper with Facebook and announced, to the dismay of some readers and friends, that I was gonna close my account, and that would be THAT.

After one person said “don’t do it,” I reconsidered. But not for long.

The issue is that Facebook has found a way to override Adblock Plus, a fine piece of software I use to clear away the chaff and debris that gets in the way of smooth web surfing. All of a sudden, every third post — literally every third post — is a goddamn ad.

Do a little Web search to see if there’s anything you can do about this latest little outrage, and you find advice both from Facebook itself and from various users on adjusting ad preferences. So beside your FB page, you put up a web page explaining, step by step, how to do this. Nary a word of this advice works.

Okay, so the problem with trying to adjust ad preferences by way of minimizing the new Facebook intrusions is apparently that I don’t have a regular user account with Facebook. My account was set up by a marketing agent whom I hired when I was trying to publicize my books and my sideline businesses. The result was just hilarious. Any of you who might be thinking of advertising on Facebook might enjoy the tale:

So she sets up this account for me, and she’s very proud. I have several books for sale at Amazon, where their track record ranges from poor to abysmal. We pick a title. She asks me to keep an eye on Amazon’s sales reports and let her know, day by day, how the thing does. And voilà! She launches an ad campaign on Facebook.

The book had been selling, BTW. Just very feebly. A copy every few days.

When the ad came online? Sales…collapsed. They dropped from almost nothing to nothing at all.

When I reported this to her, she was floored. She actually DIDN’T BELIEVE ME. So I sent her a PDF of the Amazon report, over the three weeks following our launch. She was even more floored. We might say: subfloored.

After several more weeks of assiduous thrashing around — she did a sincere job of trying to make this work — we had sold NOTHING. Not. One. F**king. Copy.

“This has never happened before!” quoth she.

“I’ll bet,” I thought.

Finally we had to give up. But I was left with the account. And so I’ve used it to socialize. It’s been wonderful to reconnect with old friends. And wonderful to stay connected with current friends. But it doesn’t sell much of anything.

And that is why I find the new advertising blitz SO, SOOOO OFFENSIVE. Either Facebook has found some way to override AdBlock Plus, a Firefox extension which in general works very effectively, or Adblock itself has failed. If the latter were the case, though, ads would appear on other sites. Because they do not, I surmise this mess is peculiar to Facebook and presumably engineered by Facebook.

I would not have installed AdBlock if I enjoyed having ads shoved in my face. I do not go to FB to buy stuff. If I could afford to buy random junk, I wouldn’t seek the random junk on Facebook while I’m trying to focus on something else. Thus an annoying ad popping up between every three posts is annoying first because it’s an intrusive distraction and second because it reminds me of the considerable amount of money I wasted on FaceBook Ads myself.

On reflection, I will not shut down my FB account, but neither will I continue to spend hours here. Instead, I’ll continue to post links to new posts here at Funny, and hope any friends who care will come on over and join the circus. Maybe some will even subscribe.

With less time diddled away over coffee at Facebook…and over another cup of coffee at Facebook…and over ANOTHER cup of coffee at Facebook, maybe I’ll have time and energy to get back to writing books. Got to finish Ella’s Story. Got to get the bathroom reading collection in print and on a few local news-stands. Got to find new things to do!

And so, away! Perchance to waste less time. 😀

11 thoughts on “Exit Facebook, Stage Left”

  1. Facebook is a mixed bag, at best. I have blocked most of my “friends” from the newsfeed because they were irritating the shigetty outta me. One ex-neighbor traveled a lot and insisted on posting pics of food, drink, and her feet. Yuck! I don’t like looking at feet and hers weren’t attractive to begin with. I also don’t like being reminded that I don’t have/never did have money to travel, so there’s that, too.
    An ex co-worker who was a doll to work with thinks Trump is unfairly maligned by the media who are conspiring with the Left to destroy this country. Oh, he also walks on water. *sigh*
    I used to post on FB a few times a week, but since the pandemic started, I’m just not much interested. If someone gets too obnoxious, I’ll snooze them for 30 days.
    As for ads, I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring them. Looks like FB is on it’s last legs anyway.

    • I’ve enjoyed Facebook as a time-killer and as a way to keep in touch with friends. One of my dearest friends from college surfaced — she lives in another state now and has for decades. It was wonderful to hear from her.

      And I’ve used FB as a platform to campaign against Trump and the evil empire that put him into office…great release, and with any luck maybe some of that railing will persuade those who are on the fence to vote against the ba*tard. Also picked up a troll, whom I came to regard as rather funny…the poor man.

      And our neighborhood’s group has its own little Facebook page, which has been very useful. That, I will miss, though I suppose I could just sign in only to lurk there, without comment and without hanging around long enough to be ad-blitzed.

      Advertising does not bother me if it’s over in a sidebar and does not flash, wiggle, or make noise. But I deeply resent having ads shoved in my face from the “feed” — that is, the editorial section that should contain only content you have invited from friends or from groups you’ve joined.

  2. While desktop applications were once largely built in a three column format with navigation/monetization on the sides with content in the middle that took advantage of a landscape viewing area, mobile optimized applications are built for portrait viewing and do not use the three column format. These applications generally consist of a single content column. All of the navigation and other items that were in the side columns of a desktop application are either removed or placed in a dropdown menu.

    Currently, approximately half of web activity is on a mobile device. Facebook is even more extreme with around 98% of usage being mobile. In that kind of environment it makes no sense to put an application’s revenue streams in side columns that the vast majority of visitors will never see. More and more we see web applications moving their revenue generation into what used to be exclusively the main content column in response to the increasing mobile usage.

    Traditionally the web had free content that anyone could access and paid content requiring a license to view. In the last several years another model – freemium – has emerged where visitors can either access the application (or a subset of the application) for free with advertising or access the application for a fee without advertising. This has become popular among newspapers (e.g. the NYT allows readers 3 articles per month without a subscription), mobile games, and music streaming (e.g. Spotify charges $10/mo to listen ad free). I am not aware of any social media sites that are currently using the freemium model. If I had to speculate, this is because application monetization is more complex/nuanced in social media than in most other web applications. You have to make distinctions between advertising, sponsored content, and suggested content and what a freemium model would eliminate for a fee. Without sponsored and suggested posts, how do users find new content and how to groups find members? It raises questions about absent the algorithm what is a social network. But suppose Facebook decided to go freemium, how much is it worth to you to get rid of the advertising (AdBlock Plus still blocks this), sponsored posts and suggested posts? $10? $20?

    • Lemme add one more point to that rant of mine, Ozzie. When I was a magazine journalist and editor (20 years’ worth of my lifetime!), we did publish the occasional advertising squib disguised as an article. However, journalistic ethics prescribed — and we complied with the prescription — that when one published a paid article whose purpose was to plug some advertiser’s service or product, you marked it clearly, in large boldface letters, ADVERTORIAL.

      Most readers did not know what “advertorial” means, and so they would read this self-interested stuff just as they would read a real article. Those who were bright enough to figure it out would move on.

      That doesn’t happen with the plugs that appear in your FB feed. What you see, about eight times out of ten, is something that looks like just another post in the feed. And THAT, by my lights, is unethical.

      Advertising, to be fair to readers, needs to be set aside in the advertising well and clearly obvious as advertising content. Facebook doesn’t do that when it gags an ad down your metaphorical throat by serving it to you in your feed.

      • Facebook labels sponsored posts as “Sponsored” and suggested posts with “Suggested for You” at the top of the post. It’s the same basic method Instagram and Twitter use to identify paid content of their platforms. I fail to see how that ethically differs from a print publication embedding sponsored content and marking it as an advertorial.

      • Waaak! Ozzy, WordPress isn’t letting me to reply to a reply to a reply! 😀 Facebook, it ain’t!

        But…Yeah. If you look close, the more craven posts in your feed do have a tag reading “Sponsored.” But this is in grayed-out type. You have to look closely to notice the tag before you start reading the ad.

        Usually, in magazine journalism one doesn’t put advertorial directly into the editorial well. (Well…ahem! One DIDN’T, back in the Dark Ages). Nor did it appear in the front matter/back matter ad wells. It would usually surface in an ambiguous place, between editorial & advertising.

        Ethically? Well, in terms of annoyance factor, which probably doesn’t rise to “ethical factor,” I am highly crabby when I look at a post that appears in a spot where I would expect a response from a reader, only to find it’s a damn ad. Doesn’t matter that it’s labeled, in pale gray letters, “Sponsored.” It’s in my face. It’s in my way. And it makes me want to stop using Facebook.

  3. FB content, which is mostly blather and cutesy memes, is not worth paying anything for, to say nothing of 10 or 20 bucks — any more than television was worth paying for.

    But the difference between television advertising and online ads is that you can turn off the sound on your TV and read or chat or go in the other room until the nuisance yammering is over. With Facebook or any website, you have to plow through the drivel to get to what you want to see, and often your attention and your bandwidth are taken up by video ads, spectacularly annoying flashing images, and assorted such aggressive nuisances.

    It’s one thing to be able to get up and go the bathroom or pour a beer or let the cat out while advertisers’ yammering is polluting the air in your TV room. It’s another thing altogether to have to PLOW THROUGH the yammering to get to the content you want. That difference is at the core of my objection to online advertising and my refusal to subject myself to it. If Internet users would not behave like sheeple, blithely putting up with the trash, we wouldn’t have this kind of intrusion.

    I do not subscribe to the Times, WaPo, and all the other profit-seeking entities on the Web because a) I can’t afford to subscribe to every newspaper on the planet; b) I am not paying for the privilege of having advertising trash shoved in my face; and c) nine times out of ten I can find the information for free from other publishers or reposted whole cloth, pirated by bad actors. Again: if we wouldn’t behave like sheeple, we wouldn’t have this kind of intrusion.

    How do we web publishers make a profit a-sailing the Internet? I dunno. I can assure you that I’ve never made any decent money on FaM except with paid links, which are black-hat and which of late I’ve decided not to run. AdSense was a pathetic joke. When I made money on AdSense, it was during the school year when I could ask my students to click on the damn ads for me. That had to stop when Adsense started posting ads for Scandinavian “escorts,” many college freshmen and sophomores being underage, after all. Affiliate links work best when you know someone who wants a specific item, you post the link for them, and you beg them to go through your link to buy online. I had a friend, for example, who used to buy an expensive dog food from Amazon — and waddaya know, a link to that fine product lurked in Funny’s sidebar. And also waddaya know…for prostituting my site I earned all of about a dime an order. Shilling the students would generate about $15 a month.

    Know what my time is worth as a technical editor? Make a guess… Why bother to sully your ethics for pennies by the hour?

    I have some fairly strong feelings about advertising, as you may have guessed if you’ve followed this far. 😀 Seriously, think about it: you CANNOT GO OUT OF YOUR HOUSE without being assaulted by advertising. Every time you drive down the street, billboards, business signs, messages on vehicles, ads on Muzak systems, and on and on and endlessly on blast your senses. Go in the grocery store and you’re fed ads through the PA system; ads are plastered to the inside of the grocery cart. Go into your doctor’s office and you’re “entertained” in the waiting room by endless custom TV blather, most of it also advertising. Pay for cable TV, and you not only fork over your cash, you also fork over attention to the endless flood of advertising that does not go away just because you’re paying to watch the content — now you pay to watch mostly irrelevant advertising.

    We’re simply drowning in this sh!t.

    Now, what if you could pay $10 a month, everywhere you go, to be relieved of this stream of drivel? Say you paid Safeway/Albertson’s $10 a month for a pair of announcement-filtering headphones, and your doctors and your dentist $10 a month (each!) to be allowed to sit in a room where you’re not bombarded with blather and your city $10 a month to refrain from plastering all its public transit vehicles with ads and your movie house $10 per show to refrain from running ads before the movies start and your cable company $10 a month to get the ad-free content that was promised when cable TV was first foisted on us… Get the picture? Let’s say you have two doctors and a dentist — that’s $30/month right there; add the rest of it and you come to something like $80/month, just not to be pestered from every direction — and that’s BEFORE you’ve paid Facebook, Twitter, the Times, the Post, and every TV station that runs a news show.

    Does that really work for you? Sure as hell doesn’t for me.

    Arise! Allons enfants de la patrie! and REFUSE!

  4. I subscribe to both the Washington Post and the NY Times and there’s no advertising. I just looked through my two remaining print magazine subscriptions and there are some entries that give the appearance of an article but clearly state “Advertisement” at the top.

    • Sure: there’s no advertising because your subscription helps to support the publications’ online presence — which, compared to a print version, is relatively economical to produce.

      Yes: ethically, one marks an advertorial prominently as “Advertisement,.” Now…that doesn’t mean it happens all the time… I have worked for magazines that published sponsored copy in the guise of regular, legitimate journalistic articles — especially travel articles! Often if they contain a passage that plugs, say, a resort, that resort has either comped the writer with a nice weekend junket or has actually paid the magazine to produce and publish the piece.

      Ah, the beloved print magazines! What would breakfast be without SOMETHING in print? 😀 My faves are The Economist and the New York Review of Books. Used to get the Atlantic, but it became a bit too stridently PC for my taste. And the New Yorker…now costs way too much for my pocketbook, alas.

  5. I love The Economist humorous touch in their articles. Their range of coverage is good and it is nice to have a different viewpoint on things. I just wish I could afford a subscription.

    • Because it’s a weekly, it’s brain-banging expensive, that’s f’r sure!!! I’m able to write it off, partly because I use it as a source for FaM (which did useta be a sorta money-making venture, and which one could argue is used to publicize the editing biz).

      If you can claim to be a student (taking a night course, maybe? even an online course?), a digital subscription is only $19 for 12 weeks. or $24 for print + digital. That’s an introductory offer…and after 12 weeks, presumably if you have to ask you can’t afford it. The non-student intro rate is $25 and $29 — still only for 12 weeks. But what the heck? That’s three months…better than a hit on the head.

      Many public libraries now have online access to a wide variety of periodicals, free to users. It might be worth checking with you local or county library to see if it offers The Economist to patrons. Then all you’d need is a library card to read the thing online.

Comments are closed.