British Columbia

Facebook changes will harm small businesses, says Vancouver marketing firm

New filters weed out posts from posts from businesses and companies but paid advertising will remain unchanged.

New filters weed out posts from businesses and companies but paid advertising unchanged

Facebook said Thursday it is tweaking what people see to make their time on it more 'meaningful.' The changes come as Facebook faces criticism social media can make people feel depressed and isolated. (Associated Press)

As Facebook's news feed changes roll out over the next several months, small business could find themselves the hardest hit.

The organization's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said the company would change the filter for its news feed to prioritize what friends and family share — while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands.

The changes follow widespread criticism that social media platforms often reinforce users' views on social and political issues and lead to addictive viewing habits.

But according to Rina Liddle, the founder of Vancouver social media marketing firm Liddle Works Indie Media, some will be hit harder than others.

She says small businesses and companies that rely on Facebook's algorithm to raise awareness for their brand won't be getting the same exposure.

"This is only going to affect small businesses and not-for-profits that use Facebook for their organic reach — that's the non-paid posts that they make," she told CBC BC Almanac.guest host Dan Burritt.

"We're not going to see less ads — that just goes against everything about Facebook," she added.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said an overhaul of the company's products, beginning with changes to the algorithms that control the news feed, would help to address concerns about propaganda. (Getty)

Paid advertising remains unchanged

Facebook's changes have been promoted with the explanation users will see more of their friends' content, enriching the overall engagement experience.

However, the amount of paid advertising remains unchanged: the organization has promised not to reduce the reach of businesses who pay for a slot in your news feed.

Liddle is skeptical of the organization's promise.

"They're not going to give you more posts of your friends — they are going to give you more posts of brands that are paying for advertising," she said.

"They've been collecting all of this information about all of us for all this time to do specific targeting for the sole purpose of selling advertising. I cannot seeing them giving us more of our friends, at all," she added.

Some experts suspect more user-to-user engagement will create more data that Facebook will then sell to major corporations. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

'Insidious reasons'

Christopher Schneider, author of Policing and Social Media, suspects there might be more "insidious reasons" at play behind Facebook's push to create more user-to-user engagement.

"Where Facebook might make its money is mining the interactions," said Schneider. "They want people to interact — that is to make posts. The more posts people make, the more they can learn more about you."

"That information has data that is valuable to sell to corporations — that's where Facebook will continue to draw in large amounts of revenue."

With files from Thomson Reuters and CBC's BC Almanac


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