At the end of February, TTAG noticed a significant drop in our traffic. Silly us, we thought it was the annual seasonal spring fall-off come early. Upon further review, however, it became apparent that the problem was our Facebook-generated traffic. And we weren’t the only firearms-related web site affected. Facebook had, they now tell us, “penalized” us for too much “promotional” content. Only our content mix hadn’t changed. At all. Nor had the content of the other sites involved. And they were all hit at the same time . . .
Strange, no? After being pressed, Facebook tells us that readers had designating our content as “too commercial”. Only they never informed us or the other sites. Who reported us? Good question.
Now we’re trying to determine how many more gun-oriented sites out there have been similarly impacted. The affected group of sites has created a web site — fbgunfail.com — so other site owners can make themselves known. We’ll then address this more vigorously with the social media giant. Here’s our press release:
AUSTIN, Texas (June 6, 2016) – A coalition of firearms-related organizations – Concealed Nation, The Truth About Guns, Gun Owners of America, USA Carry and Alien Gear Holsters – today revealed that Facebook has been actively suppressing their posts. Based on the coalition’s research into the problem, the suppression began at the end of February.
“We have over 700,000 likes on our Facebook page and tremendous reader response to our material,” said Brandon Curtis, publisher of Concealed Nation. “We didn’t change a thing about the way we post. In February our Facebook traffic fell off a cliff. It sank by nearly 50 percent in that first month.”
Facebook has penalized these organizations’ pages by limiting distribution to user newsfeeds, despite users ‘liking’ the page.
Facebook has admitted to Curtis that the social media giant has suppressed the gun-related pages’ distribution. They claimed their posts had “too much commercial content.”
“I realized our Facebook page wasn’t the only firearm-related website that had experienced a dramatic decrease in traffic,” said Luke McCoy, founder of USA Carry. “I emailed the same account manager at Facebook about our situation. She said that people were claiming our content was overly promotional.”
“Content that would normally reach our nearly one million followers has steadily dropped to a fraction of what it once was, despite our page’s continual growth of new followers,” said Rob Russo, social media manager for Alien Gear Holsters.
Curtis informed Facebook that Concealed Nation, The Truth About Guns and other affected sites’ content was purely editorial. Facebook’s account manager then claimed the pages had been flagged by users. Nearly a month has passed and Facebook has yet to provide further information, and has not given a timeline for any type of resolution.
Despite repeated requests, Facebook has failed to remove the penalties imposed on the sites’ firearms-related pages. Instead, they offered a free seminar on how to increase traffic with the penalties in place.
The publishers are looking to determine the extent of the problem — including the amount of revenue lost due to the fall-off in Facebook-related website traffic. They’re asking owners of gun-related Facebook pages to check their Facebook reach and engagement for 2016 and report their findings at fbgunfail.com. Once they gather the data, they’ll contact participants to share their findings and propose a joint response.
“Facebook is an invaluable resource for Second Amendment supporters trying to spread the message of responsible gun ownership,” Curtis says. “We’re asking Facebook to remove any penalties on the affected pages, and to create a process that prevents this type of thing from happening again, including a notification system that would notify page owners whose posts are being suppressed. Our readers enjoy and want our content, and it’s frustrating that they are no longer seeing what we post.”