It was like I could hear the snickers in the back of the classroom. Reading about how print journalism was dead, and how everything has changed because of social media. In some respects, it has. But reaching out to the Claremont community and COURIER readership are things we have been doing quite well for over 100 years.
But now it’s time to give Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg feedback on how to make his product work better. Why all this sarcasm? You see, the COURIER just had our Facebook page destroyed because the company said we were a business with a personal account. That’s not allowed, I guess.
We had a personal account because it enabled our followers to not only comment on COURIER posts, but to post content on our wall themselves. That meant our 3300 or so Facebook friends could publish event information, cool photos or anything related to Claremont on our page. Kind of like a community bulletin board. It was simple to share information with people. We liked the personal touch.
“No,” says Facebook! The COURIER is a business and must have a business page! That means no friends are allowed; only the owner of the page can post stuff. You want to do more? That will be $32 to promote your page says Facebook. They are a publicly-owned company now, time to bleed the customers.
So out went every post from our friends over the past six years. Literally thousands of photos, community updates and comments from followers with varied opinions were deleted. Some posts had over 200 Likes and 150 comments. What stayed? Only the posts by COURIER staff. Even the reader comments to these posts were erased.
The biggest drawback to being forced from a personal page to the business model is that we lost our newsfeed. We can no longer easily view our “friends” posts and photos, which means we’re blocked from sharing events from community groups or “liking” a photo posted by a local school. There’s no more reaching out to the community for us. Basically, our hands are tied.
You would think a smart company like Facebook would do the right thing and inform us that this was going to happen or try to explain their polices, whether we agreed or not. Uh...no. We found out by logging in one day and seeing everything changed. Emails to the company’s help desk were never answered. As editor Kathryn Dunn said when first realizing what happened, “Apparently, Facebook is the boss.” That is so true.
What Facebook doesn’t understand is some businesses actually want participation from their Facebook friends. That means friends get to post stuff too. We share. Something more than just a comment or Like. But they just don’t get it. If you are a business, you can’t have friends, says Facebook.
Could they be afraid of change? Have they become…shall I say it…“old school?”
I think Facebook leadership has been looking at their computer screens so long, they have forgotten how their own product works. They are stuck on the fact that interaction between people must be confined to a Like.
Here’s a $50 million idea. Start a new category for business class. It could be called “Facebook business/personal solutions.” Create a page that allows users greater flexibility in how they interact with customers. This could apply to other groups like Rotary, sports teams, nonprofits or other companies who want to build a community around their friends and followers.
Charge $50 a year for this “personal touch” option and watch everyone sign up.
Mr. Zuckerberg, if you Like this idea, I only ask for one thing in return. Subscribe to the Claremont COURIER.
In the meantime, the COURIER staff will continue to post news items and website links on our Facebook page. We encourage you to comment and Like us. And we will always be your friend.
UPDATE: Facebook just won’t quit. After all they have done to our page, we get this notice emailed to us:
“It looks like Claremont Courier is not a local business or public place.
Please let us know what type of Page this is.
If we don't hear from you by September 10 the Page won't be listed as
a place people can check in.”
We assured them the COURIER has been around for a few years.