This morning, many of us with Facebook pages woke to see either our content gone, our ability to share our own links from our own websites gone, or both. What began as a small trickle seeping from the top down, became a tsunami, as gradually smaller and smaller websites began to see the impact. I was one of them. Many other literary colleagues were finding the same. As were important sources of public safety information, including health departments and weather sites.
When I first heard the news about the Facebook news ban in Australia I was pleased. Well, I thought, that’s great! I’ll no longer need to see the awful, fear-mongering, monopoly news outlets on my Facebook feed. I will be able to concentrate on puppies covered in baby chicks and photos from people I really care about and my supportive business and diabetes and gardening groups.
And then, I went to post a link from my website to my own Facebook page of 81,000 followers and it was blocked. Tried it in my group – blocked. I then began to hear stories from all sorts of people – small people, important people, helpful people, those offering counselling services and health services and writers and updates about weather and fire danger. All gone or blocked from links.
I could feel tension in my face, a tumbling in my stomach. The thing I’d often thought about over the years with such a big Facebook page, was happening – they’d taken control. In all of the years I’ve been online, we were always told – don’t rely on one stream of marketing, especially social media. Be on a few platforms, but mostly, get an email list and have a solid website. It’s the only way to have (semi) control.
But, whether you love it or hate it, or like me, tussle between the two, Facebook has become the soft newspaper on a Sunday morning, sitting on the deck in the sunshine in your nightie, sipping tea, chatting to your partner about the home section and what next project is on your list, discovering what’s on in your local area, checking on the latest covid-19 updates. It’s become part of the fabric of our lives.
After my initial flurry of worries, (nice rhyme, maybe there’s a picture book in that – The Very Bad Day When ScoMo, Murdoch and Zuck Stole My Content) – I decided these things:
- Facebook is just one social platform
- There are plenty of others
- It actually isn’t something I enjoy that much any more
- I have an actual website and an email list and other places to go share content
- There are lots of ways to create, consume and share content
- Screw the Libs and screw Zuckerberg and screw Murdoch
I started writing on the Internet in 2001, way before there was any Facebook or other social media. In those days, we had group forums and emails. I even had an email buddy system where I matched people with diabetes. In fact, the Internet was more fun before Zuckerberg came along. I love to linger in a book, to talk to people about what matters over a cup of tea, listening to the radio and watching quality documentaries on television and streaming. Facebook is not the centre of the world.
So, if you’ve been affected, take a deep breath, stop doom scrolling, if you haven’t got one, start an email list, if you haven’t got one, get a website, and if you have these things, reach out to your community, like I am now. Also, be sure to find the news outlets you trust, like ABC and BOM and your state health department, and all of the other writers and authors and bloggers, the ones you really want to hear from, and follow them on their websites and on Twitter and Instagram.
Apparently this is an algorithm glitch and pages are being reverted. Hopefully that will be the case. Some are already returning. A work-around that did work for me, is to cross-post from Instagram to your Facebook page too.
No matter what, this has reminded us that we shouldn’t become blinkered when it comes to our content. There are so many ways you can read, listen, see and connect with the world.
- Using a range of social platforms, rather than relying on one
- Meeting with people in-actual-real-life (when covid-19 doesn’t stop us)
- Chatting on the phone, or text, or using other messaging apps
- Video hook-ups, conferences and events
- People’s e-newsletters
- Local interest groups, such as gardening clubs, environmental groups, literary groups and more
- Using your library and independent book-stores to gather and read books and magazines
When we are on our last days, we won’t be thinking about the time those men tried to take away our voices. Because they can’t. You have a voice, a beautiful, unique, important voice. Now get out there and use it wisely