You Didn't Get the Message Because We Didn't Have $150,000

Facebook is sorta awesome. It's a great place to connect with people and for blogTO it's been a good platform for not only keeping in touch with our readers, but also for our readers to easily get in touch with us in a public manner; even if we don't cover an event you guys inform us of, our group members still get the option of checking out the details on their own if you posted it on the wall or in a thread.

Facebook has recently changed the rules for groups, though. As a result we haven't been able to send our awesome readership messages about events, contests and promotions happening on blogTO through the increasingly popular platform. If we wanted to send you guys messages about such happenings, it would cost us a minimum of $150,000. We didn't win the lottery last week, so that ain't gonna happen.

More details as well as how this has affected us as well as the Toronto After Dark Film Festival are after the jump.

The original group size message limit for the Facecrack platform was 1,000 users. That's a pretty respectable size. A few weeks ago Facecrack changed the rules without telling any group admins in a public manner. The rule change was that groups admins could only send mass messages if the membership was under 500 users. Anything above 500, and groups would be required to fork over $50,000 a month (three month minimum commitment) for a sponsored account for privileges like sending out notifications and messages directly to the user base.

One-hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

We tried to send out some news about a contest a few weeks ago through the blogTO Facecrack group and everything looked OK. The message went into the sent items bin and no message or notification was given that the message didn't reach a single person in the group. When our glorificus dungeon master, Tim Shore, tried to contact Facecrack about the apparent issues, he received the following reply:
Hi Tim,

We are aware of the problem that you described and hope to resolve it as soon as possible. Sorry for any inconvenience. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Customer Support Representative
I'm not about to scream bloody murder here, but such a response seems odd at best. Had the Facecrack uppers bothered to tell their CSR teams about the change in policy? Or mayhaps they were testing the waters to see just how many people would be affected by the changes to the system. We dunno, but what is fucking stupid is the cost for a sponsored account. In order for blogTO to send messages directly to our 770+ members, we'd have to mortgage our homes to do so.

Adam Lopez and Chris Emery of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival have experienced these issues as well. They feel pretty gypped about it, saying "We tried so hard to encourage our film festival's fans to join our groups, and keep them under the 1,000 member STATED limit for sending facebook messages, and guess what? Sneaky facebook screwed us - and every other facebook group - over in secret this past month."

With the influx of advertising on Facebook home pages, it's understandable that everyone's gotta make a living and nothing is free in life. For groups like blogTO, Toronto After Dark and others a nominal fee for certain features is understandable. What the hey, it's helping us further our own agendas, no reason Facecrack should just give it away. But the price being asked ventures into the realm of the absurd. Couple this with the fact that, if you're like most people, keeping track of your Facecrack groups is a chore and you instead check your updates that fly into your inbox rather than check up on the latest wall postings and threads. The way the site is designed, it's just something of an inconvenience any other way.

Mass messages of big news, events, and contests, however, are usually well received by users that voluntarily sign up for it.

This is somewhat tragic, especially for a city such as Toronto with our obscenely high Facecrack adoption rate. The little guys with big followings who are no doubt somewhat responsible for the growth of the social networking behemoth are being given the shaft because their popularity has reached the level known as moderate. In the meantime, you can get your After Dark Film Fest news by signing up for their newsletter (CLICK ME CLICK ME!) as joining their Facecrack group in the hopes of being kept in the loop is now a lost cause. Their last words on the matter? "We'll still keep updating Toronto After Dark Film Festival's pages on [Facebook], but we know almost nobody will be reading the updates, because almost nobody checks their groups after they've joined them. Unless you message them. Which thanks to our popularity, we can't anymore."

For blogTO? We dunno yet. We're exploring our options on how to best keep you guys in the know when not actually on our site. If anyone has any suggestions on how you would feel best served, let us know in the comments section (or you could let us know by writing on our group's wall). I've put forth the idea of using carrier pigeons, but the chief doesn't think it's a good idea. No one likes pigeon poop, it seems.

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