I’ve written about Facebook before, but this time I have a bit of a cautionary tale.
We consolidated our congregation’s Facebook Page and Group into a new Page not too long ago. A volunteer stepped up to make it happen and reinvited everyone to come over to the new Page, and we now have more fans on our new Page than we did for the old. Photos were moved over, and we added our blog feed so that posts would automatically show up on our Facebook Page, where they can be “liked” and commented on.
Then the feed stopped working. Fine. I deleted the feed and readded it, and the new posts appeared.
Came back a week later. New posts not showing up again. Fine. Deleted and readded again.
Came back another week later. New posts not showing up yet again. Fine. Deleted the feed, but now it won’t let me add it back in, giving me a nondescript error message. No more time to work on it, so I put it off until the next week.
The next week I tried again. No dice. Same nondescript error message. I google it and find that others are having the same problem, with no solution from Facebook. Wait, there’s one search result pointing to a WordPress plugin that will serve as a workaround. I go to the plugin’s page to see that the plugin is broken in the current version of WordPress. Oh well.
I go back the next day to try again. Maybe it usually works, and I’m just winning the downtime lottery. Still doesn’t work. I search the Facebook help forum to find others having the same problem and finding no solution. I fill out the help ticket.
The help ticket sends me a robo-response asking for a screenshot. A screenshot of what? Of a feed not importing to my page? How am I supposed to take a screenshot of nothing happening? I ignore the message. Maybe they’ll actually read my support ticket and get back to me.
Next day, no response. So I fill out the ticket again. This time I respond to the robo-response, explaining that the feed isn’t importing and listing the six different iterations of the feed’s address that I’ve tried to import.
Which brings us to today. No response still. At least now when I try to add the feed, it give me a preview of the items it’s trying to add. But then it gives me a new nondescript error message when I confirm I want to add the feed. At least this time the error message apologizes for the error. I press the “Go back” link in the error message to try again. Rinse. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Now our Page won’t even load. I check other websites to make sure it’s not the connection. Nope, it’s Facebook. And still no feed re-added.
I tell my tale of techno-woe to point out that Facebook does not work for us—Facebook works for advertisers. It provides a “Religious Organization” category for its Pages so it can sell ads to churchfolk, not because it likes our congregations.
There are some good things to be done with a congregational Facebook Page. But we need to remember that Facebook is a for-profit corporation that makes money off our personal information. Let’s keep one eye on Facebook at all times and make sure we don’t move functions of our congregations’ lives over to Facebook that we can’t also run off Facebook, or do without. Facebook isn’t our friend, and we shouldn’t depend on it.