Social Post Throttling is happening and it may seem like the Online version of 1984!
You have been throttled – Welcome to Selective Broadcasting
‘Selective Broadcasting’ aka ‘Social Post Throttling’ might sound like terms for low budget advertising where only a targeted segment of total audience is advertised but we are talking about everyday users posts being edited, not advertising filtering. We are discussing it as an approach taken by your social media site – Twitter, but it is happening on others – in reducing the reach of what you post.
You might have heard about the terms “shadow banning” or “ghost banning” if you frequent sites like reddit. It is a practice of admins or site owner hiding malicious (or unwanted) comments from a segment of the intended receiver to lessen the effect of what users post. Admins advocate that it is necessary so as to deter trolls, spammers, and those who post controversial things. Social Post Throttling is different and not surprisingly more effective than outright banning the user because a poster does not know his/her message has not transpired to a desired number of people and believes what he/she has written has failed to gain attention. This ultimately leads to people being less likely to post as they are not receiving attention. Users seldom double check if they have been shadow banned or not. A simple log in from another startup account or asking their followers directly if they are still seeing their posts would uncover the truth.
Social Post Throttling, employed by twitter, this ingenious method of cutting you from your audience base, is so effective that a person would not know they have been cut off from their target audience but will only rue the lesser attention and engagement they get. It’s a great way of lessening the effect of what people write and indirectly shutting them up without really having the trouble to ban them or confront them.
On Twitter – You might have seen messages like ‘this tweet is unavailable’. That is mostly not a technical problem you are encountering or a case of the original poster deleting the tweet – that is you witnessing the Social Post Throttling algorithm at work. Sometimes you can still visit to the poster’s timeline to see that the tweet is indeed available.
The answer to how Twitter, Facebook etc. do it is easy – they have data about you. Not just registration data, it has a long history of your preferences, list of people who most likely re broadcast your message etc. This is data-driven economy at work. We are talking about a system with its deep analytics. We as marketers rely on this data to better target customers who would likely purchase our products or services.
The important thing to understand about Social Post Throttling is how it is effecting platforms; the potential for it to slow down a platforms popularity is huge and as it becomes public knowledge, it serves as a reason for more and more users to leave or stop using the platform.
Ultimately Social Post Throttling will leave a particular type of user, or types of users on the platform who support the over-arching platforms agenda. Now Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, all being commercial platforms, have the absolute right to do this. As marketers it is our job to understand who, if the platform survives, will remain, what are their underlying preferences and styles which align to the platform, to effect better marketing outcomes. As engineers and programmers, it is essential to understand wider platform traction in a landscape of fake users, trolls and engagement – if a platform is failing it will be harder to realise stable long term outcomes on the platform, and we should be looking at alternatives to pitch to clients.
So watch this space – While there are significant rumblings and pushback on Social Post Throttling, today we are not seeing the quick rise of a new platform… but that is not to say these challenges platforms face are not on our radar, and we won’t see one or more of them tank their stock price and go the way of MySpace.