Social media is the Proof to this Proverb. I recently learned definitively that this is by design. In a conversation with Facebook Support I was told, unequivocally, that to improve our page ranking, we should block and ban dissenters on our page and “only preach to the choir.”
The conversation started because people were having trouble tagging our page on Facebook, especially on mobile devices. When you typed in @Cold Dead Hands, a drop-down menu popped up with several Cold Dead Hands pages, but not OURS. On PC it would show up in the tag list, but it was 3rd or 4th on the list.
Now, you may ask, “how do you know the engagement and posting habits of these other pages?” Easy. They are our pages, too. The one that usually comes up in the first spot, and usually gets tagged when people try to tag our main page, is a back-up page we created when Facebook shut down our main page.
Of course our page was not taken down for any of the listed reasons and was reinstated. This was simple harassment and nothing more. Our original page is still going strong with nearly 2.5 million followers. Which is why I was confused by the fact that our back-up page, which we only share to sporadically to keep it active, ranked higher (based on ‘engagement’) than our main page.
So… Negative comments on your page and your posts, lowers your “relevance.” It’s not your total “engagement” at all, it is how much negative “engagement” you get that lowers your “relevance.” Apparently, in facebook-ese, “relevance” means echo chamber. It seems as though, Facebook is designed for fools who love to share their opinions, but not civil discourse, debate or understanding. Yes, even civil discourse can be viewed as negative to an algorithm that only sees key words, not tone or context.
We built Cold Dead Hands on welcoming diverse opinions and debate, to educate and increase understanding. Which appears to violate Facebook “Community Standards” and lowers our “relevance” in the Facebook community. Not to the point of shutting us down (again), just enough to marginalize our voices, make us harder to find, harder to tag, less prevalent even in the News Feeds of our 2.4M plus fans and followers. De-emphasizing those who welcome discourse and debate, those that seek understanding and true unity beyond bias confirmation.
It is an insidious algorithm that quells discussion and promotes tribalism. Though it has long been an accusation made against Facebook, and other social media platforms, I was still stunned by the actual admission.
In theory, it is intended to minimize conflict that may escalate. It reality, it results in polarization that increases and escalates conflict. When people are entombed in echo chambers, reinforcing their biases amid a chorus of amicable agreement, any dissent becomes the equivalent of heresy. Heresy that must be vehemently opposed, shut down and punished, often violently. With such entrenched and reinforced tribalism, civil discourse and deeper understanding becomes all but impossible.
We do not intend to change. Education and understanding is still our goal, but now we KNOW that we are pursuing that goal on a ship of fools that is on the verge of mutiny. So, we look at ways to change our approach, with the new understanding of the dynamics in play. But, we will not be manipulated and made fools of by an ill-conceived algorithm that does the opposite of it’s stated purpose.
We hope this brings YOU some understanding as to how YOU are being manipulated, as well. Opinions are great, but true understanding is greater. Be Greater!