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Facebook Knows Best

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Decisions regarding the format and layout of your Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) “News Feed” are always going to be driven by advertising revenue rather than the opinions of Facebook users.

Facebook Knows Best

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) may claim to weigh the feedback of its users and the thousands, in not millions, of complaints they get each time they make a large change to the layout of its site, but let’s face it they don’t and they don’t have to either. Free services where all your friends are just that, free and necessary, what’s a user to do, demand their money back?

Facebook “Know Best”

Beyond this, Facebook also insists they know best and what you the user truly want. Recently there has been some contention about whether users underestimate their audience size and would also enjoy seeing the amount of people that view their individual posts. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) insist that users have no interest in this metric and have even gone so far as to say it causes sadness when people are viewing your posts, but failing to “like” it, or comment on it.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) maintains that those are the numbers that people need. Others argue that audience estimates generally fall short and it would be interesting if this was available to users. It’s not dissimilar to Facebook’s insistence that people don’t want to know when they’ve been “unfriended.”

“When you post on a social network, it’s almost like trying to give a presentation from behind a curtain. You know who’s invited and supposed to be listening, but you don’t know who is actually there in the room,” Stanford assistant professor Michael S. Bernstein told recently told BuzzFeed, sparking this debate.

“I think this is something we need to better understand,” Bernstein continued, arguing that fear of rejection is just one of many possible reasons we underestimate our audience. “When I post content, do people not react to it but enjoy it? Do they not react to it and it is grating on them over time and they choose to unsubscribe? We don’t know.”

As a result of these comments, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) engineer Lars Backstrom who works on News Feed, recently fired back maintaining in essence, “We know best.”

People More Interested In Seeing Who “Likes” Their Post

“The main premise of the article — that everyone wants to know how many friends see each of their posts and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) doesn’t want to tell them — is just plain wrong,” Backstrom wrote in a Facebook update. “A few of us did build and test a feature like this internally. Our conclusion after testing it: people are way more interested in seeing *who* liked their posts, rather than just the number of people who saw it.”

He continued, “Virtually no one has asked to see this information.”

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) does, however, show advertisers, page owners, and group members how many people viewed their posts, because these audiences, unlike regular users, care about the stats, he added.

If for no other reason than advertisers get this information, I want it too, and suspect I’m not alone.

If this debate continues in the public eye, I expect Mr. Backstrom will be getting quite a few calls for this information.


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Brendan Byrne

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