A Facebook status update experiment

Facebook Journalist Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik told me yesterday that my post about the questionable number and quality of people subscribing to my public Facebook updates “seems to suggest that people are ‘spammers’ because they are from another country and subscribed to you,” when in fact “they likely found you because of their interest in media.”

I would like to think that, Vadim, but I’m looking one of my recent subscribers — Caner Onaltıocakbindokuzyüzondört from Konak, Izmir (that’s him on the right) — and I just don’t see him as your typical Romenesko reader who’s interested in U.S. media. (Yes, I could be wrong.)

Lavrusik emailed me yesterday: “I would encourage you to post a status update asking your subscribers where they are from.”

I did that.

Here’s what I posted last night:

This message is for Facebook users who live outside of the U.S. and subscribe to my public status updates: Please post in comments below WHY you’ve subscribed to my updates, and how you learned about me. Thank you.

I received 20 responses (most of them were posted on my wall, but a few came in via email) from subscribers who live outside the U.S. (I currently have 15,032 subscribers to my public updates.) I heard from Rebecca Te’o, an Australian journalist teaching at a university; and from Anne-Sophie Bolon, who wrote, “I’m French, working for an American newspaper in Hong Kong.” I also got an interesting post from Nisha Chittal — one that let me witness Facebook stalking in real time. Here’s the thread:

Nisha Chittal
Jim, I’m actually surprised at the lack of spam on this post. Lately, any time I post something on Facebook, I immediately get comments from spammers of “hiiiiiiiii” “add me” – usually within minutes of posting. Have you not received any of those on this post yet? I would be happy to test it out with a post on my page if it will help prove to Facebook once and for all that this IS a spam issue.
12 hours ago · Like

Nisha Chittal · 9 mutual friends
I would add that I think the spammer comments are MUCH worse for women as well – I have received some very objectionable ones and I have spoken to other women journalists who have experienced the same. Facebook chooses to ignore the issue.
12 hours ago · Like ·

Mayur Patel
hiii nisha.. hw ru u
12 hours ago · Like

Nisha Chittal
I mean. I think my point just proved itself.
12 hours ago · Like · 1

Jim Romenesko
Nisha, one of your stalkers just chimed in.
12 hours ago · Like

Nisha Chittal
Exactly! Spam, everywhere.
12 hours ago · Like

American journalist Dan Mitchell wrote on my wall:

I just quickly went through a dozen or so of Jim’s followers. The vast majority of them seem to reside in developing countries – often in the Middle East, South America and Africa. Few of them indicate any particular interest in journalism or the media business. Here’s a typical one: http://www.facebook.com/sercan.karadeniz3?sk=info

However, they do all seem to be real people – not spammers. I have to wonder what could be going on here. Are there some cultural reasons people in these areas just like to indiscriminately subscribe to a lot of people? If so, those reasons are cross-cultural, because these people are from all over the place – from Spanish-speaking countries to Arabic-speaking countries.

This was an interesting experiment, but I’m sorry I didn’t hear from more subscribers. I’m guessing that “Presiden Jeprie’ScreamoloveTodeath Blackmonster’attackRawksylend Eventhough’shewasnot-inourside” (that’s how he’s identified on my subscription list) would have had an interesting story to tell. I was hoping to hear from subscriber “Mah’nicknameiz BabyBoo ThereforI’magirl” (that’s her avatar on the right) and see what she thought about my recent post on the Fox News PR machine. But no such luck.

Vadim, I really do think the Facebook and Journalists program is great, and I know you’re working hard on it. I also know that I get a lot of traffic to my site from people who subscribe to my public updates, and I appreciate that. But I know too that the majority of my 15,000-plus subscribers — including Socrat Jim Jones P (“Engineer at My Sweet Factory”) — really have no interest in U.S. media. These Facebook Subscribe numbers that are being thrown around are bogus.



1 comment
  1. I’m a Greek journalist and though I’m not a subscriber to you facebook page, I read your blog daily. Anyone that cares about the future of the Media should be following what’s going on in the US market. And definitely your blog is the best of its kind. You shouldn’t be that much surprised with your international following, although I guess that indeed you have your share of spammers.

    Nonetheless, I’m really wondering what percentage of your traffic from this blog comes from overseas.