My Ongoing Fight With Big Tech: A Journey's Tale
Did you ever have one of those dreams where you were absolutely sure you were dreaming but you were unable to wake yourself up? It is an almost matrix like feeling in that you know the reality around you is wrong, and all made up, but for whatever reason you cannot seem to break through?
That is how I would sum up my continuing fight with Big Tech and their political agenda. Every time I think that I have figured it out and gotten it settled, they throw up another barrier. It is both infuriating and frustrating. How am I to grow an audience if my posts do not even make it to the people who follow my page, or if I cannot advertise my content to potential audience members?
It all started in the lead up to the 2020 election. In 2018 Facebook started restricting content from publishers to their members by putting it behind an "interaction wall." If you content does not generate enough likes/comments/shares, it is deemed to be not interesting and it does not continue to show up in your members feeds.
This is fine if they hit active members of your page first, but if their algorithm hits some quasi interested people first who do not like/comment/share then it drives the content so far down the list that even your page subscribers never see it.
The only way that a publisher has to overcome this is to pay to "boost" their post. This does not even automatically put it out to all of your followers, but it does "boost" the post up the algorithm. They allow you to target certain segments or groups (as their advertising is segmented), and this allows you to "boost" your post with those most likely to interact with your content.
So I had been paying Facebook for quite a while in order to grow my audience. Each article was getting between 60-80 views (I know, I am really small, so I am not really a threat to ANYONE) and I thought that I was building something.
Then came the great "Election Interference Rules" that Facebook instituted.
Overnight, and with zero warning, my ability to boost my posts was eliminated. Facebook instituted a new rule saying that all content dealing with "Social Issues, Elections, or Politics" had to be published by a verified publisher, even though it is not the same as being "verified" on Facebook. This meant that I had to go and get a business license to "prove" to Facebook that I was in fact who I said I was and that I was doing what I said I was doing.
I immediately contacted Facebook support to object. I mean, I'm just a guy who does a podcast and a blog. A celebrity does not have to do this. My friend who holds a political office and has a "public figure" page does not have to do this. Yet I do? What gives?
Do you think I ever got an answer?
I'm still waiting.
So, during the 2020 election, when Facebook was actively blocking my content, I took down my Facebook page and attempted to switch to Parler and MeWe. Well, Parler was nuked by the Big Tech industry and MeWe proved to be not much more than a flash in the pan. This led to me recreating my Facebook presence and acquiring said business license at my own personal expense. When my non-advertised posts fell from 60-80 reads per post to less than 10, well, I had to do something.
I guess it is not all bad, no one can use the podcast's name now as it is legally registered, but still, this was wholly unnecessary.
At first, things were going ok, I have been rebuilding my audience slowly and dealing with these myriad of new rules/barriers that Facebook has put up, but then something happened that once again blocked my ability to pay for advertising and I am right back at square one.
I wrote a post about how tenants not paying rent hurts landlords, and Facebook, presumably through a bot, labeled it is "discriminatory." You are welcome to read it, I linked it above. There is nothing discriminatory in it at all, but once again, Facebook has locked my advertising and is not allowing me to "boost" my posts.
Of course, I attempted to do the "right thing." I submitted the ad for review, or at least I attempted to. Yet when I did the whole apparatus for appealing was broken. I had to take screenshots and submit it to Facebook Technical Support before I can even begin appealing the decision. That was yesterday morning, they say that I will be contacted within 24 hours, that was up about an hour ago.
So, I tried another way to accomplish the same objective, asking for a review of the individual "boost" and not the post itself, only to find that the reason for the ban had been changed. Now it was saying that it was labeled incorrectly. It was saying that it should have been labeled as a "housing" related post and not a "Social Issues, Elections, or Politics" post.
Yep they took the "discrimination" label off without telling me at all, but now they had changed the argument to be that I had not labeled it correctly.
That is not correct, however as the post had nothing to do with housing availability or even the housing industry at all. It was all about the social issues of skipping out on rent that it due to your landlord.
Yet, I gave the benefit of the doubt, which they have more than squandered at this point, and decided to simply re-review the ad submission. I even went so far as to sign up for their business helps and attempted to chat with a person on messenger. I'm still waiting on a response over an hour later on a chat with our representative function.
If they were an insurance company they would have lost my business on that alone.
I'm sure I have the dreaded "extremist" label in their system, but that should not matter when I am following all the rules to the letter. Laws are about letters not spirits, and if you are going to lay down laws then you have to expect that people are going to follow only as far as the letter of it.
So, now I am sitting around and waiting for their "ruling" like a sycophantic puppy and just wishing that I had enough influence with people to get past that like/comment/share wall. It is embarrassing when you are completely at someone else's mercy, but between Goggle, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter, reaching potential readers is completely at their mercy.
It truly is a monopolization on influence and control, and that is just yet another reason for the government to break them all up. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?
As I was literally preparing to post this article, my "boost" was approved and I got notification that it was running. I did not get any response from Facebook, nor any questions from them about what happened. I suppose I will take wins where I can get them, but it would have been nice to at least get to tell them what happened.