24 October 2015 – San Jose, CA
Mark Zuckerburg announced today that Facebook will soon allow its users to “Like” another user’s “Like” on their own or another timeline.
“We have been battling a lengthy and steady decline in compelling content,” explained Zuck. He went on to explain the specifics of the plan to make Facebook more relevant.
“First we allowed people to pay us to post their compelling content. This did not improve the content so much as it improved revenue. Especially once we realized that we could displace followed content with paid content in everyone’s news feeds. It didn’t solve our banality problem but it made banality much more profitable.”
Unfortunately for Facebook the increased profits were earned against steadily declining numbers of active users and declining interest among active users. Increased profit per post still leads to less profit overall when posting and engagement decline. So Zuckerberg is attacking the engagement problem head on.
“It’s so simple it’s brilliant. Say I post a photo of a cat. Then my friend Bill hits the ‘Like’ button. Normally I get a notification that Bill likes my post. Under the new system I can now ‘Like’ that notification or click the likes on the post and ‘Like’ each of them.”
“Those people will then see a notification saying ‘Mark Zuckerberg likes that you Liked his post. They can then ‘Like’ that and I get a notification that ‘Bill Gates likes that you liked his Like of your post’. Since all ‘Likes’ are now eligible to be liked in turn, this can go on indefinitely. We haven’t set a hard limit but have tested nesting to over a million deep. We have tested the ‘Mega-Like’.”
Zuckerberg brushes off critics of the new plan who claim it will only make Facebook even more banal.
“Banality is in the eye of the beholder,” he effuses. “It’s easy to say that a Like is not compelling if you aren’t the one receiving it. Want to know a secret? I was the one who tested the Mega-Like. Personally. I sat at a PC 24×7 for a REALLY long time and just kept clicking Like on my own post, waiting for the notification, and then clicking Like again until I had Liked my own post more than a million times. It was pretty exciting and that’s the lesson here: engagement is always exciting for the people who are engaging.”
We asked The Zuck which of his posts was the subject of all this testing. “I don’t remember,” told us. “I think it was a picture of a cat.”
Toward the end of the interview we asked the most popular question from our Reader’s poll. (Yes, that’s spelled right. We have only you, the one reader. Thanks for responding to our poll, by the way.) The question topping our poll was whether Facebook will have an option, paid or otherwise, to filter out of our timelines everything except content posted by those we follow. Will Facebook ever give greater weight to things we explicitly said we wanted to see and less to paid content its algorithms estimate we want to see?
“People say they want that but they really don’t,” Mark explains. “Have you seen what people post? The most viral stuff is conspiracy theories, fundamentalist religion, and anti-science bullshit. We wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors if we let you self-select the content you want to see. With our system the content in your news feed is selected by very sophisticated algorithms that can determine in real time who bid the most money for that slot. And now with the new Recursive Like feature, engagement of that content will grow exponentially.”
I don’t know about you dear reader (again, singular), but it sounds to me like it’s time to Like me some Facebook stock. And if you Like that I liked it, we both win. But it doesn’t mean we’re engaged in any sense of that word.