Sunday 29 December 2019

Be careful about what you post on social media

I've said many times that authors should take care not to offend anyone on social media since a vindictive person you offend can have a disastrous effect on your book sales with a bad review. There's another side to this though. Social media is getting flack from government over hate speech and fake news and has had to develop ways of combating this. Enter the social media algorithm.

Facebook is a classic example. As a social media platform it is huge. it has become more powerful than the traditional print, tv and radio media as a source of information. Unfortunately it's also a source of misinformation and hate speech.

To police Facebook would require an army of people constantly scanning posts and checking facts. That's simply not possible so an algorithm is used to seek out offending items and flag them for action. Even that is too much of a task and would still require an army of human checkers. Result? The algorithm takes action itself and inevitably it makes mistakes.

That happens quite often so Facebook gives those the algorithm has targeted to option of appealing the decision. Handling the appeals is less of a task and is more manageable - in theory. However it can still go wrong as happened to me over Christmas 2019. Here's what happened.

I made this post (You may notice the subtle use of an affiliate link to the film at Amazon):
Nothing too innocuous here and facebook didn't object - yet. here's the comments which followed:
I entered into a discussion about religion, something that along with politics is best for an author to avoid. However I've frequently discussed this with this Facebook user and we agree to disagree while remaining friends. Here was the killer follow-up though.
ZAP - Facebook's algorithm kicked in and decided the meme of Hitler was hate speech. It removed the comment and gave me a three day ban on making further posts. Naturally I disagreed and made the appeal.

Someone at Facebook looked at the offending comment and decided it had been mistakenly identified as hate speech. They apologised nicely and restored the comment.

But here human error kicked in. Although they had restored my comment they forgot to remove the three day ban on posting which went with it awarded on 23rd December 2019. When I discovered this on Christmas eve I naturally clicked the 'This is a mistake' button.

TOO LATE! The Christmas holiday had kicked in and my 'This is a mistake' didn't get attention.

No big deal perhaps? Not to me. It meant I couldn't post to various author groups, especially author retweet groups, over Christmas and that will have cost me lost book sales.

So let me reiterate that warning.

Be careful what you post on social media - especially if you plan on promoting in the next few days.

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1 comment:

  1. Very well written I will be careful with my postings and rants in the future.. and God luck to you with all your endeavors in the future :)