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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Social Media Ain't So Social Anymore by Suzanne Rossi

Hello everyone.

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day. Our weekend was very quiet, which was how we planned it.

I think I've blogged about social media before, but now it's time to take another crack at it.

I've been on Facebook and Twitter for over ten years. I enjoyed catching up with old friends and relatives who live a thousand miles away. But that is slowly changing. The "hello, how are you" of Facebook is no longer there. The trivial and silly "Had bacon and eggs for breakfast" of Twitter is a thing of the past. And the reason for this is the sites have been politically weaponized. It's impossible to log into either of them without politics rearing its ugly head. And the saddest part is that both have encouraged the process.

Let's start with Twitter. What began as a simple avenue to let others know about you has developed into an arena of raging politics. Most of the tweets coming over my news feed are political in nature. Now, I don't mind people indulging in their opinions online. If I don't agree, I can scroll by and ignore it. The problem is the vitriol has gotten out of control. And the content of the tweets is questionable as to being the truth. It's hard to separate fact from fiction. Recently, even the site itself has come under fire for implementing its political inclinations into the mix. Many users have been suspended or banned for stating their beliefs. Twitter used the art of "shadow banning" wherein what you have tweeted is shown in your news feed, but not in others. Therefore, your statistics on retweets, likes, and replies take a serious dip. Twitter has also taken it upon themselves to delete some of your followers, so those numbers change, too.

To be honest, I no longer promote my books on Twitter and I notice fewer and fewer authors doing the same. I'll also admit that I'm politically opinionated and frequently use the site to air those opinions, but not under my author moniker.

Facebook became the social media darling. Users could connect with high school or college friends and distant relatives. It took the place of e-mail, which took the place of the telephone, which shoved an old-fashioned letter right out the door. It was instant communication on a large platform. It was fun. I have two FB pages--one professional and  one personal.

But in the last few years, Facebook has also has come under the gun for dubious business actions. When you sign up for Facebook, you list a lot of personal data on the site--e-mail, where you went to school, city of residence, even phone numbers. It turns out that FB was selling that data to others. Suddenly, the robocalls skyrocketed as did the unsolicited e-mails from various companies trying to sell their products. The sad part is, the ability for them to do this is laid out right in front of us with the "Terms of Service." You know, that unbelievably long statement in legalese that nobody other than a lawyer can understand. Does anybody really plow through all that and read it? No. We simply hit the accept button and move on. About a year or so ago, I went through my privacy settings and turned off as many as possible.

Facebook has another trick they play on their users--they regulate which postings you see. Yep. They use an algorithm to determine which of your "friends" postings are shown first. Now, I'm not sure what an algorithm is--it's got something to do with math and computers. I'm lucky I can turn my laptop on, let alone understand how all this works. However, I have about 350 "friends" yet often  only see the same 25 or 30 people popping up in my news feed. And some of those people have very strong political opinions that are opposite of mine. I rarely answer and scroll past, but every day, there they are again. If I haven't seen "Mary's" postings in a while, I go to her timeline and discover the section called, "Posts you may not have seen." She's posting--it's just not showing up on my page. Now, when I friend a person, I do so with the expectation of seeing their posts. Not seeing them leaves me feeling cheated.

As a result of all of this, I've cut back my time on Facebook, too. I try to post updates on my writing and my books, my everyday life, and of course, funny sayings. Occasionally, I post something political, but make the attempt to keep it general in nature.

There are other social platforms out there. One is gab.com. It was started by someone sick and tired of censorship on Twitter and Facebook. There are no rules. People can post whatever they like without fear of being reprimanded by the site. The only censorship is what the user feels is necessary. He or she can mute another user and not see their posts. But beware--Gab by its very nature of no censorship is filled with hate groups. You have to decide what to mute. I find I'm not using it as much as I did when I first signed up 6 months ago. Can't stand the negativity or the ugliness of the words.

I also recently heard about a new site called "Parler." I have no idea how it is set up, but will check it out soon.

On the upside, I just finished my final edits for Judge Not. I'll have a release date soon. I also am happy to announce I received a contract for Killer Country Club, book #4 of the Snoop Group series.

Hope everyone is sliding from Spring into Summer gracefully. I've been looking forward to warm weather for months. Have a good one and I'll see you in June.

Suzanne

5 comments:

  1. How very true about the vitriol, especially on Twitter. I'm not sure about remaining on that site if no one really notices authors. Not that I'm writing much lately, and congrats on your new contract and writing progress!

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  2. I hear you, Beth. I still see authors on Twitter, but not nearly as many as say 3 years ago. I'm about to give up my professional FB page, too. I'm rarely on it an most of my friends on my personal page know my pseudonym anyway.

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  3. I think we all are in agreement that the climate of the country and social media sites have changed drastically. I still use Twitter and Facebook, but I'm either snoozing (inappropriate) people on FB for 30 days or just ignoring the site completely since it's filled with sponsored advertisements which I think is the direction Facebook wants to go to make money. I'm so disappointed that we don't get to see what all our friends are doing, and I don't have the time to go into their individual FB sites to keep in touch. Maybe we just have outgrown social media? Best of luck with your book! (I'm going to check out the sites you listed. Thanks.)

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    1. I signed up for Parler yesterday. It's like Twitter so we'll have to see how that works. It seems like every other posting in my FB news feed is an advertisement. And if you click on one, your e-mail is inundated with ads, too.

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  4. My profile and author page are so interwoven that I'm extremely careful about what I say. FB could disappear tomorrow, and I'd be one of the few not upset about that. *LOL*

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