Big Brother, Thy Name is Facebook

I feel as if I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole, and that rabbit hole has a name — Facebook. A couple of months ago, I met a reviewer on Facebook who had been prohibited from posting her reviews of mysteries on the Mystery Writer’s of America Page by MWA. (Isn’t that bizarre? Wouldn’t you think they would have wanted her reviews.) I invited her to post her reviews in my Suspense/Thriller Writers Group. I’ve mentioned before that we’ve banned most promotions except for reviews of other authors’ works, interviews with other authors, and excerpts from other authors’ novels. I’ve been trying to foster a sense of camaraderie, of authors helping authors rather than letting the authors inundate us with book links everyone is sick of seeing, and this reviewer’s posts seemed to fit with my concept.

But now she has been banned from posting links to her reviews in my group, not by me but by Facebook. Apparently, FB now have new rules banning any sort of promotion on one’s profile and from one’s profile. You have to use a business page for that. And so for now, people are still being allowed to blatantly promote their books, but unpaid reviewers are banned. Not just prohibited, but blocked — the links from her WordPress account and Networked blogs no longer post to her profile. And if she posts the links manually, her account will be suspended.

Technically, Facebook has always prohibited promotion. The profiles are supposed to be about socializing and connecting with real life friends, but people posted books links, giveaways, and all sorts of promos anyway, and Facebook never enforced it. A major change is coming now that FB is traded publicly. If FB allows promo anywhere on the site, the pages lose their competitive edge. FB also loses potential advertising bucks. (A related issue is that FB is not being welcomed by investors as enthusiastically as they had expected — huge numbers of users are accessing the site via phone and tablet and are bypassing the advertising, which makes FB not quite so lucrative as it was just a few months ago.)

But still . . . not to allow book reviews? Why is that a business? For some people it might be, but for this particular reviewer, it is a hobby, nothing more.

I asked the reviewer how FB found her and why they singled her out. She responded, “They tripped over me on another site and they FOLLOWED ME THERE! Yes, THEY FOLLOWED ME and about 4,000 OTHER people! That’s how they knew about my reviews, reviews that are free mind you. In time, though, I believe this will get to everyone. I’m betting I’m just in the first batch, but I’m sure they will be more.”

Yikes. Shades of big brother. I generally presume articles about Facebook fall under the category of urban legend until corroborated, but this reviewer’s experience seems to corroborate the following article: Wow. Facebook Rules Prohibit Users From Promoting Their Work, Company, And Much, Much More . . .

9 Responses to “Big Brother, Thy Name is Facebook”

  1. Eleanor Anders Says:

    This is an excellent post about how things are changing, like it or not!

  2. cwc6161 Says:

    This is absolutely RIDICULOUS! Have they defined “promotion”? What if I interview (as I just did) an author and in that interview the author or I talk about his/her book(s)? Is that promotion, too ? Come on, Facebook, you’re getting a little too big for your britches! People joined Facebook because it was FUN. You used to be forward-thinking like Amazon. Now, you appear to have your head up your … publicly-trade stocks!


  3. ClaireMcA Says:

    That’s interesting and may explain why the facebook publish link has never worked for me on WordPress.
    Ig facebook becomes restrictive, it opens up the market for something to replace it, it almost feels like time, increasing frustration, decreasing pleasure.

  4. Miss Kitty Roads Says:

    Wow…I knew FB was getting silly, but…just wow. I started an account to hopefully connect with potential readers of my books, but with the way FB is acting up will that even be allowed?

  5. R L Pace Says:

    Publicly traded changes everything. In addition to now meeting shareholders expectations they become subject to whole host of FTC regulations and governmental oversight. Gov’t doesn’t care about the banking/investment trading schemes that (sorta) fleece the public and private sectors to the tune of trillions, but if somebody wants to pitch their $.99 cent ebook, the hammer falls. Someone will see this as an opportunity and create something similar that is either A) intended to stay privately held, or B) based in another country and not subject to U.S. law. This will begin to puncture the high-flying FB (as all endeavors that become too big too fast) and people will begin to flee to whatever becomes The Next Big Thing. This will soon prove a huge business mistake (think New Coke) because now they will find themselves having to vet every link and every photo. Their biggest hiring opportunities will be for FB police.

  6. dellanioakes Says:

    What scares me the most is that they FOLLOWED HER! That makes me more nervous than anything.

  7. knightofswords Says:

    So far, I don’t think my reviews have been blocked. Once they are, I will be tempted to leave Facebook because–like most writers–I came there first to meet other writers, and one way of doing that is sharing reviews, author interviews, and other posts related to books. If the powers that be are going to incorrectly label reviews as promotion rather than journalism, then we’re going to need to find another service.

    Thanks for letting us know, Pat.


  8. Book Bits #147 – Chopping up Ms. Christie, ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ reviews and writers’ links | Malcolm's Book Bits and Notions Says:

    […] Big Brother, Thy Name is Facebook – “And so for now, people are still being allowed to blatantly promote their books, but […]

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