Lieutenant Sulu to Facebook: Engage (your users)

Forget hackers; Facebook's shady promoted posts are biggest annoyance to users, including wildly popular 'Star Trek' actor

It's November 5, which can only mean one thing: Thousands of Twitteratti quoting the same damned sing-song rhyme:

Remember remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

Yes, it's the 407th anniversary of the day Guy Fawkes failed to blow up Parliament. It's also your excuse to don your Anon mask and watch "V for Vendetta" for the 407th time. And, of course, it's the international hacker holiday, where script kiddies demonstrate their mighty power on unsuspecting and mostly undeserving targets.

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Does anyone else find it ironic that the world's hackers choose to celebrate the day some guy failed to blow something up? Or that his goal was not to create anarchy but to restore England's Catholic monarchy? What are they teaching kids in history class these days?

So far, the list of confirmed targets includes NBC.com, a Lady Gaga fan site, and a new age website in Australia. Hackers have also allegedly leaked some 28,000 PayPal passwords, though PayPal is denying any breach, and attacked Symantec (ditto). Yep, that's certain to restore a papist king to England's throne.

For the last two years a pseudonymous hacker flying the Anonymous flag also vowed to turn Facebook into Fawkesbook. This year's excuse is, strangely, to protest layoffs at Zynga, which isn't actually owned by Facebook, though it's understandable why one might think that. As with last year, Facebook continues to hum along, impervious to whatever devious machinations the hackers are trying to concoct.

(If the Anons really wanted to do me a solid, they would take down Zynga and keep it down. I am currently losing three games of Words With Friends at the same time and desperately need an out.)

No, as I write this the biggest threat to Facebook continues to be Facebook, which has found itself in yet another kerfuffle. This one concerns not privacy, but rather the opposite: publicity.

People who are using Facebook as a way to promote themselves or their brands are finding it not nearly as effective as they used to. The reason? Facebook is no longer spraying out every single update to every single person who clicked Like or Subscribe on a page; these days you can count yourself lucky if 15 percent of your page's fans ever see it.

Of course, if you'd like to pay Facebook money to promote that post, that's a different story. Then Facebook would be happy to share it with more of your fans (though still not all of them). Hey, somebody has to make up for that 50 percent drop in share price.

The Facebook faithful have become mighty suspicious that the reach of their posts suddenly got very short at the same time Facebook began demanding money to extend that reach. They feel like a) Facebook is deliberately limiting access to posts to make more money (which Facebook denies), and b) Facebook pulled a bait-and-switch on them, urging them to create and promote their own pages only to later throttle the key benefit: direct access to their fans.

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