Sunday, January 26, 2014

Facebook Is A Big Disappointment

When I started off with my blog about dieting, I read about all the things that are necessary to make things work: SEO, Social Media, Youtube Videos, Content, etc.

Of course, Facebook had to be part of the whole thing. I decided to join, not because I like it (I never used it and found it unnecessary for my personal life), but because it's a way how you can drive traffic to your website.

In fact, the first results seemed promising. Only one or two youtube videos, shared via Facebook, led to about 140 registered visits in a short time.

Then, suddenly, someone must have complained and reported me as spam. I don't know why, but the reaction was radical, immediate and not even the slightest bit fair. I had no chance to defend myself, and most of all, I didn't even know what was happening (see my previous post for more information).

I wrote to the "help desk" several times and now I'm done with trying. I leave facebook and I don't even feel bad about it. I mean, what's the point sharing stuff on a facebook page when:

1. No visits from facebook are registered
2. Facebook warns its users that they believe my site is "not safe"
3. I have to enter captcha phrases (hard to read) for EVERY post I try to make
4. I can only share content directly from my blog to facebook (can't enter the link on my facebook page)
5. A marketing campaign worth 30 euros (coupon from facebook to encourage people to advertise there) ended with NO money being spent (which means that either they didn't display the ad or the ad had no effect at all - which means facebook is a bad platform for marketing
6. It has been a waste of my time.

There is only ONE aspect of facebook that I am still using. And that is me sharing Youtube links. I found this to be a useful way to get around the anti-spam blockade. As I said, Youtube videos are a part of my campaign to make my website interesting. Facebook will never (I hope) declare youtube a spam website. Therefore, I am under protection from their URL, even if it's my own "spammy" content they despise with all their heart. So I am able to share youtube links in facebook groups that deal with weight loss. I get a couple of views that way (on youtube, plus some people hopping over to my blog from there), but it's not totally overwhelming and I am not going to make that many videos.

As for private use, I have never used FB before and I'm not going to use it again either. I found it  a little discomforting how people searched for me and then suddenly the whole network of ex colleagues was suddenly on my list of suggested friends. I knew FB didn't know privacy but I didn't think they'd push familiar faces into me like that. Just leave me alone.

It's annoying, it sucks, it's bad, it's old. People are going to leave Mark Zuckerberg's little project quite soon. The only thing that could stand in the way of this process would be Google's stupidity in being just as robotic and unfriendly to its users. We will see how it goes.

Anyway, now that even I used Facebook, I think it's time for it to die away. You see, I'm always the last one to hop on the train. When it was myspace, I was among the last people before it collapsed. When it was friendster, everyone was there until I came - then they all ran away. Now I've entered facebook, and I think it's going to crash soon. Any other social media I should bring to an end?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cynical Ways People Are Dealing With Tragedy

There is a lot of voyeurism and sensationalism involved when people get killed or badly injured. But sometimes, it gets a little too much. It's not the fact alone that people, especially the media, exploit the misfortunes of others. It's how they do it. Here are some examples:

People making cell phone videos of people dying

It's very popular, especially in obscure third-world countries, to first take your cell phone out of your pocket when you see a badly injured person lying on the street after a traffic accident or someone who was just shot during riots. But these people don't take their phones out to call the ambulance, they want to take videos.

It's a little sickening, especially when the person who is dying is still conscious and aware of what's going on around him. And while valuable minutes pass until an ambulance arrives, there is no interaction between the majority of the bystanders except for many cameras being pointed at the victim.

Covering a dead formula 1 driver's body with blankets and continuing with the race

Nowadays, Formula One is a very heavily regulated sport where you get penalized or even banned for the slightest things. Even ordinary accidents usually lead to a drive-through penalty or something of the like. The newest atrocities include drivers being warned for their choice of words at the post-race interviews. I won't be surprised if points will be deducted for comments like "I don't give a shit if people think I don't smile enough" by people like Kimi Raik├Ânnen.

In the 1970s, Formula One was still a totally different sport. Drivers never had to hold back their opinions, enjoyed cigarettes and alcohol and knew they could be next on the grim reaper's list.

It was also totally normal (or so it seems) that a race was not stopped when a driver was burned to death in his car and the only thing organizers would do was to cover the car with sheets. They didn't even recover the dead body until after the race! The poor guy who was burned alive was Roger Williamson. His car turned over in a 1973 race and he was trapped under it. A fellow driver tried to rescue him but could not do it alone, and the track marshals back then barely knew how to use fire extinguishers and didn't have fire proof clothing.

Formula 1 in the 70s was as pathetic in terms of safety as the 1820 were in terms of cloud computing. It makes you feel like you lived in the middle ages.

Dozens of people uploading fake Schumacher skiing accident videos

When Michael Schumacher had his catastrophic skiing accident in late 2013, videos about his accident quickly appeared on Youtube. Some of them already said "RIP" when he was still in coma (and would remain in a coma for weeks). What was even weirder was what happened later. In the course of the next days and weeks, more and more videos were uploaded that not only contained pictures but actual footage. Footage of snow, of alleged skiing accidents, footage from point of view helmet cameras. But all of these were just random footage recorded by the people themselves and marketed as "Schumacher helmet camera" or other things.

I've checked Youtube, knowing that the original footage has not been released by the police, and there are at least half a dozen people reinacting accidents and making it look as if this was the real Michael Schumacher accident footage from his own helmet.

Isn't it weird how people are so sensational about getting views on Youtube from something that's just fake? Considering that it's a serious matter we are talking about?

Imagine if you had an accident like falling of the stairs while holding your amateur camera, and suddenly everywhere on Youtube there are fake videos with your name plus the phrase "original staircase accident camera footage" or something like that. All of them trying to make money and get famous because of your accident. Wow...

Friday, January 03, 2014

Facebook - A Digital Version Of North Korea / Fireworks In Germany

What do Facebook and North Korea have in common? Both have dictatorship-like structures, including a dictator, silence critics and don't respond to your inquiries about things that are wrong (well, I assume... I have never written a letter to North Korea yet, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt).

Here is the thing: I opened a facebook page in order to promote my website about dieting. I also joined facebook groups about low carb diets. In these groups, it is mainly only allowed to post recipes, not guides, tips or other supposedly "spammy" stuff.

So I abide by these rules and only post recipes. However, I do this by sharing a link, because only handing out free knowledge and receiving nothing in return is not why I came to facebook. I at least want some traffic on my website, so I post the link to a recipe which people may or may not click on. In some cases, when the admin of the group says so, I will also type the text of the recipe so that people also get the basic idea of the recipe. Just to be in full compliance with the group rules. I also read these rules very carefully.

Sometimes, it happens that my recipe needs to be checked and published by the admin of the group. In this case, my post will not be published immediately. The only problem: If the admin does not like my post, I usually don't get any feedback from them. So I guess all they do is report me to facebook as a spammer instead of telling me that they don't like my post.

What has this led to? First, I could no longer share links on facebook. I thought this was a technical problem, and facebook even said "oops... we are working on it". But after this kept on happening for weeks and other people happily posted their links, I figured out it must have had something to do with my account. I kept guessing and guessing for days.

And bingo! I noticed I could share links from any other website except for my own. This confirmed my suspicion that facebook had blocked my site without even letting me know about it (North Korea style).

I also, at one point, received a message that facebook considered me a robot - although without mentioning anything about my website. They just "felt" I was not a real human being and demanded that I confirm my identity with a phone number, which I did. I thought it's just their typical scheme of getting personal information about you, so I thought it happens to anyone after some time.

This, however, did not redeem me. I am still considered a robot, although one that is encouraged to spend money on marketing campaigns for my facebook page (lol).

I learned all by myself (couldn't find any help on yahoo answers) that I can technically share links if I post them directly from my blogger site onto facebook, so that works. But then, I have to type in a captcha phrase (different numbers with shit sprinkled all over it so you can hardly recognize anything).

Every time I share a link, I have to confirm - again and again - that I am not a bot.

What did I ever do to be treated like crap? And why is there no way I can defend myself except for writing enquiries to facebook that are never even answered (North Korea style)?

Another thing that confuses the shit out of me: When I write to facebook, the contact page shows text both in English and German. Different text on the same page! To explain, let me show you this:

(English) Please let us know if you have any problems using facebook. We rely on your feedback.

(German) Is Facebook considering you a spammer? Please write in the text below why you think this should not be the case.

Text box (English) Please enter your text here.

Below text box (German): We will contact you as soon as possible.

After clicking "send": Thank you for your information. We will let you know bla bla (English). 

This makes me wonder: Regardless of them not reading my messages anyway (North Korea style) - would it be a German or an English-speaking person reading my message? Is anyone going to understand me anyway? Do they actually have German employees?

And seriously, I was very tempted writing "Dear Mr. Zuckerberg" when I started out with this crap.

Another thing that's very popular in Germany

Maybe you know that in summer, many people leave their kids for dead in the heated car. This is a very popular custom here. Another thing that's very popular is killing or hurting yourself and others around "Sylvester", that's new years eve.

It's the time when many fireworks are used in the streets. And every, every year - people get killed. This year, I heard about at least two people getting killed, one of them was a father who got killed by a firework he built himself. Another person "only" blew off his hand at the age of 26. Even two year olds got injured, and I wonder how this happened.

Even as a child, I heard that our neighbour had once lost an eye or something like that in such an accident. So it's a tradition.

So if you ever come to visit Germany, make sure you check the news in summer for stupid parents who leave their kids in a heated car while shopping, and around new year, make sure you count how many people blew their limbs apart with fire crackers. Hooray!