This article originally appeared at AmmoLand.
Some guy who fondles an inflatable spheroid with his feet gets 23.2 times more love from Facebook than all the fans of the National Rifle Association combined. True or False?
We’ll answer that question in a minute. For now, let’s talk about the realities of this most recent Facebook kerfluffle. You know, the recently announced a policy change that will ban Facebook content related to the buying and selling of guns. This issue has been talked about plenty, so I’ll just summarize the details here. While perfectly legal, Facebook will no longer allow people like you and me to post content about guns for sale or trade unless we’re federally licensed gun dealers.
The devil is always in the details, especially since Facebook is relying on user snitching to find and remove said content. That’s right, you can bet your morning Eggo Waffles that the anti-gun folks will be out trolling Facebook content in force to gleefully turn in violators. Heck, they’re already turning in pages and groups that have nothing to do with gun sales, and in many cases, Facebook seems more than happy to shut down those pages and groups. A friend of mine recently sent me these examples of non-selling groups that have shut down by the Social Just Warrior Tyrants: West Texas Used Brass and Reloading, Mossberg Shotguns and Rifles (interest group), and Alaska Wheel Gun Discussion. Reports continue to roll in of hundreds, and maybe thousands, of groups that are being disconnected. The odds of getting your interest group turned back on are about the same as Jeb Bush winning the next Republican primary.
Here’s the problem with all of this. Facebook is a business. The First Amendment, free speech, and all of that doesn’t apply. You can still say whatever you want, just not on Facebook, because they own the software and servers, so they make the rules.
You may love or hate Facebook, and it’s many things to many people. One thing Facebook is not is a charity. Yeah, it’s free, but like Bernie Sanders’ programs, we all pay through the nose for it. Everything you write, photograph, video, comment, or share will be analyzed, mined, packaged and sold to the highest bidder. Think of using Facebook like documenting every aspect of your life – photos, thoughts, and conversations – and sending it voluntarily to every advertising firm on the planet. That’s not an exaggeration.
Facebook doesn’t care about you or your issues. Facebook cares about three things:
- How many people use Facebook.
- How many hours those people spend on Facebook.
- How many dollars marketers will pay Facebook for access to those people.
Unfortunately for us, the shooting community is pretty small in the scope of the big worldwide Book of Face. Over 1 BILLION people use Facebook every day for somewhere around 20 minutes each. Over 800 million of those daily users are not in the United States or Canada, the focal points of gun issues and discussion.
So how big is the gun enthusiast footprint in the scope of Facebook? Consider some of the larger organizational and interest pages.
Corporate and Organizational Pages
|Guns and Ammo Magazine||733,000|
|National Association for Gun Rights||4.4 million|
|Gun Owners of America||1.2 million|
|Gun Digest Magazine||682,000|
|Shooting Illustrated Magazine||1.9 million|
|National Shooting Sports Foundation||505,000|
|National Rifle Association||4.7 million|
|Second Amendment Foundation||418,000|
Common Interest Pages
|Guns Lover||1 million|
|Anything About Guns||902,000|
|Guns and Patriots||617,000|
|Guns, Ammo and Knives||873,000|
Just to put things in perspective, the band Guns and Roses has 29,986,836 likes. The lesser known band Machine Gun Kelly has a whopping 4.1 million. In fact, “big” pages on Facebook easily pop into the tens of millions. Heck, Michael Jackson has a bigger Facebook presence than the entire gun community combined, and he’s rumored to be dead.
|Cristiano Ronaldo||109 million|
|Vin Diesel||97 million|
|Justin Bieber||74 million|
|Michael Jackson||76 million|
So back to the opening True / False question…
The answer is true. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo does have 23.2 times more clout on Facebook than all of the National Rifle Association fans combined.
In contrast, invitation groups on Facebook, meaning the types most likely to be affected by the recent Facebook policies, often include just tens, hundreds, or thousands of members. We can whine and gripe all we want, but mathematically, Facebook isn’t gonna care all that much.
If you’re pissed at Facebook, and just can’t live without it, what can you do?
You can take the boycott approach and join some other social network like MeWe. Hey, I’m all for this approach because I hate Facebook. Not a day goes by that I don’t consider ditching it altogether. You can be certain that Facebook watches the growth numbers of competitive social media sites like a hawk. Will this make a difference? Probably not, as a few hundred thousand ticked off gun owners won’t get much attention from Facebook or any of the other social media giants. If you bail and go to a gun friendly site, do it knowing that you’re just moving to a place where your conversations about gun issues won’t be censored. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, just know that you’re not going to have social media goliaths begging you to come back.
You can also choose to fight where you already live by getting out of the shadows and into their face. While no one knows the exact answer, it’s likely that at least 100 million people in the United States own a gun. If all, or most, of those folks, make connections of some sort to gun-related content on Facebook, Uncle Zuckerberg will know it. So don’t hesitate to post photos, links, and gun stuff on your Facebook page. Start with liking AmmoLand. Then like pages of shooting companies and topics that interest you. Participate in discussions. If you’re worried about getting on a list or being identified, see the previous part of this article about your personal information on social media. You have no privacy and are already on more lists than you can possibly imagine.
Now if we can figure out how to coerce Justin Bieber into filing a complaint with the Facebook management team, we might be onto something. Anybody here know the Biebs?
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.