facebook has your backI have to start this article off with an observation about Google. Anyone who knows me knows that I adore Google. The thing that won my heart was learning their motto: Don’t Be Evil. However the slogan was originally intended, or however it is interpreted today, you have to appreciate a company that gets up in the morning, brushes its teeth and looks at the words “Don’t be Evil” framed on the wall, before business starts for the day.

Facebook on the other hand does not seem to start its day like that. Rather it seems Facebook gets up, brushes its teeth and then looks at a list of all the ways it can confuse, piss off, and collect tolls from its users.

Facebook is basically the troll under the bridge that demands payment before you pass. It accepts payment in cold hard currency (for advertising), and it also accepts payment in slavery. The more time you spend on Facebook, the better they are able to report they are still Number One, the more they will reward you with little morsels of the things you post being served up to the people who specifically indicated they wanted to hear from you by friending you or liking your page. How reasonable of them.

Ok, so this sounds like I am really biased, and harsh. But let me tell you a little something and then you decide if I am being harsh or biased.

If you find a page and you “Like” it. You want to see stuff from that page, and you want to be able to find it later when you feel like checking in. Because by now we all know that Facebook’s sooper seekret algorithms prevent us from seeing everything, so a manual check in now and then is the only way to make sure you see stuff. But did you know Facebook also makes it difficult  to find things with Facebook search? Did you know when they say “search for people, places, and things…” what they mean is “enter the exact name of the thing you are looking for and maybe we will show it to you?”

The other day, I wanted to check in on a fan page I had helped a local author set up. She hadn’t used it a lot. She only had 27 likes, not enough to count in Facebook’s eyes as a real page (only when you get to 30 does Facebook deem you respectable enough to get full access to the tools available for page owners). I hadn’t visited it a lot either. Taking those factors into consideration, Facebook deemed it proper to make it impossible for me to find her page. Even though I had LIKED the page when it was first set up.

I could find her personal Facebook, but not her author page. I even searched under “pages” but it just wasn’t showing up. I kept trying different search options and word combinations, I even asked her if it was possible she had deleted the page. Finally, I went to her personal Facebook (one that she keeps private from her fans) dug into the pages she had liked, found where she had liked her own author page and clicked on it. At last I had arrived at her author page.

By my logic, if someone has “liked” a page, and they use Facebook search to look for that page, then the search should be biased toward showing the liked pages! Obviously, Facebook does not follow that logic.

Facebook’s search doesn’t even seem to be based on keywords. One of the issues I had finding the page is that I had forgotten what it was called. It was called “Her Name, Writer.” I had tried “Her Name” and “Her Name, Author.” Logically, that should have yielded results because this was actually an author page.

When you set up a page, Facebook asks you to identify your business and you click author. If someone is searching for “name” and “Author” it only makes sense for the search to use that page information to serve up search results. It only makes sense (I am beginning to suspect the words “sense” and “logically” are perhaps beyond FB’s grasp) that the words you enter a search field only have to be keywords, not the exact wording of the page name. Doesn’t it??

Not according to Facebook I guess. Even when I searched “Her Name, Author” and clicked “pages” under search I got “no results found.” Not even a whole long list of similar names with hers buried at the bottom. Just none.

Not shown because I only had two words of the page name right, not all three, and I hadn’t looked at the page in a really long time, and the page wasn’t very active. But still a page I had liked!

Blocked from Facebook search.

I have searched for other pages since that incident and not had as much trouble finding them as I did this one author’s page. The difference? They had paid the toll. They had more than 30 likes and they posted with at least a little frequency.

But this is not an isolated incident. Just the most extreme. There have been many times that I tried to find a page, which I knew I had liked, and had difficulty finding it with Facebook’s search.

Now I am not saying this to make authors give up on Facebook. Facebook may be devious, and flirting with evil, but they are here to stay. People have Facebook accounts like they have phone numbers now. Even people who don’t use Facebook have accounts. You can’t ignore it. You can’t not have a presence on Facebook.

This is what happens when you are not on Facebook:

You can however be aware, and choose how much of a toll you will pay Facebook. Make your page, make sure to post a little, make sure to get more than 30 likes. But don’t bust your butt trying to “get something from it.” You have better things to do with your time. Like write, or be active on some other more friendly social media.

Treat Facebook like a frenemy. The number one rule of having a frenemy: Get as much as you can from them, without getting caught up in all the drama!