Dear Bands: You Don't Have to Pay For People to See Your Facebook Posts

If you have musicians on your friends list on Facebook, then it's likely you've seen the above image or a variant thereof. Basically, bands are claiming that Facebook is only allowing their posts to be seen by some of the people who have liked their page, and is trying to scam musicians into paying to promote their posts in order to reach their full audience. Thus is my newsfeed cluttered with an awful lot of misplaced outrage, and I'm here to clear it up.

First of all, Facebook has been showing some folks' posts and not others for many years now. It's an algorithm called Edgerank, and you had better be thankful because it is one of those things that keeps Facebook from turning into the pox-ridden spam incubator that MySpace eventually became. It's complicated, and the final workings are an industry secret, but I'll give you the gist.

Edgerank assigns certain weights to your activities. Yes, you're being tracked, and no there's nothing sinister about it. If you don't want computers following you, your only recourse is to stay off them. Where was I?

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner