Facebook Feels Commercial; And It Cares

by Vered DeLeeuw

I’m not sure to what I owe the honor of getting to partake in a Facebook survey. Perhaps it’s the diligence with which I mark each and every newsfeed ad as spam. But Upon logging into Facebook the other day, I was prompted to fill out a short survey, aimed at gauging how sick and tired we are of Facebook ads.

We are, aren’t we?

Facebook has indeed become commercial, and I see it on both sides. As a user, I am completely fed up with newsfeed ads. I don’t mind the sidebar ads so much – I can ignore those – but the newsfeed ads are impossible to ignore, and they replace what I use Facebook for – funny or interesting updates from my friends.

I also see the big change in Facebook as a page owner. The inherent virality is gone – it seems as if the Facebook algorithm holds page posts hostage, deliberately sending them to just a tiny fraction of the fans (3 percent or so), pressuring page owners to pay to promote their posts.

Obviously, Facebook has a right to make money, and sometimes I wonder if I’m being unfair about this. It’s kind of like a blog. Readers sometimes get used to an ad-free, high quality blog, and when the blog places ads on its pages, they become offended. I always thought this was unfair – after all, a blogger has a right to make money too.

I don’t generally mind Internet ads, but online advertising seems to become more and more aggressive. As readers develop ad blindness and don’t even notice sidebar ads anymore, ads are becoming ever so intrusive. It’s not uncommon for me these days to land on a web page and feel as if I’m under attack – popups, popunders, expanding ads, talking ads, vibrating ads, all I want to do is close the browser window and escape, and I often do.

So there’s a balance to strike, especially for a social media company, and Facebook seems to have crossed the line between injecting the occasional ad in between what really matters, and being perceived as all ads, all the time.

Fans CAN get tired of a social network and move on. It happened to Digg, it happened to MySpace, and it can happen to Facebook. Facebook knows that, of course, hence the survey. I don’t know where it’s going to lead or what they’re going to do with the info, but since Facebook mostly feels as a company that couldn’t care less about its users, I find it refreshing that they have decided to listen. Let’s hope the fine balance between social and commercial will be restored soon.

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