I Have More Than 60,000 Subscribers on Facebook, and They Are Out of Control

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
Feb. 1 2012 4:44 PM

“You Are God Gifted Honey”

My 60,000 Facebook subscribers are driving me crazy.

(Continued from Page 1)

While it’s great that Heron has found successful methods for managing her subscribers, the amount of time and effort she’s put in seem unreasonable. Though Facebook needs to improve its spam detection and comment moderation tools, the problems with Subscribe are more nuanced than they might appear. The comments I’m getting are coming from real people with a different sense of Facebook etiquette, not spambots or a few bad apples spewing porn. As Heron notes, the majority of the problematic comments she gets are “cheesy come-ons,” not outright offensive remarks.

Facebook has more than 800 million users, most of whom are outside the United States. Until Subscribe launched, everyone on Facebook stayed in their own insular communities—we connected with friends, or friends of friends, most of whom shared the same cultural norms. Subscribe, which opens Facebook’s doors to all comers, has revealed that American mores of interaction have not translated globally. Perhaps men who see that they can subscribe to me think it’s an invitation for them to hit on me. I don’t think the cheesy men are “spam,” but do I want them commenting on my posts? No.

Vadim Lavrusik, a program manager for Facebook, assured me that they take complaints of abuse seriously and they are working to improve their tools. In addition to better comment moderation tools, I’d love to see Facebook develop a “cheesy come-on” filter, to help limit not just the flagrantly horrible comments and the spambots, but the ones that are off-topic and annoying. As of now, many of the comments I find irksome aren’t in violation of Facebook’s community standards. A suggestion: Perhaps if someone has been blocked by more than three subscribers they should lose the ability to comment on all subscriber posts.


Until these issues are sorted out, it’s not just journalists who are left shell-shocked—it’s our Facebook friends, too. Since my subscribers started making their presence known on my page, at least 15 friends, co-workers and family members have asked me the same question: “Katherine, WHAT is going on with your Facebook page?” When you write online, you have to take nutty commenters, Internet haters, and creeps in stride as an occupational hazard. When those people are seamlessly mixed in next to your aunt and your friends from high school, it’s harder for everyone to take.

Ultimately, I’m still a Subscribe believer. With improvements, I think it can become a fantastic way for people worldwide to read the stories of American journalists, and for us to think about our audience as global and perhaps very different from us. But Facebook erred by dropping this cannonball of a feature into a pool of 800 million users without better targeting and filters. If the goal is volume over quality, Facebook’s recommendation engine is clearly effective at getting people to subscribe. The quantity, however, far outstrips the quality of thoughtful subscribers, and until that changes I have to shut the spigot off. For my own sanity, I’ve decided to limit who can comment on my posts to only my friends, and friends of friends.

Sorry, new subscribers. I love you and I care about you … but not in that way.


The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 


How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.


A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?