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How Filter Bubbles are Created on Facebook (or Boycotting Amazon's Bookstore is a Religious War)

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Karen Quinones-MIller, one of the first bestselling authors on AALBC.com. Shared my "Would you Stop Buying Book from Amazon to Save the Book Industry" questionnaire with a group on Facebook. In fact, it was her very first post to the group. I'm not a member of the group, but Karen tagged me on a few replies so a read them and decided to reply. 


It was the first time I've engaged on Facebook in substantive way in a very long time.  This exchange demonstrates how filter bubbles are work and are created, which is one of of the reasons I'm posting the entire exchange ere. 


I engaged with two people who disagreed with me. After I'd stopped commenting, one of them wrote that they were going to report my comments to the group's admin in an effort to have me banned from the group. 


The guy wants me banned because he said I called him "ignorant and stupid." I did describe his comments (not him) as ignorant, because they revealed a lack of knowledge of the subject.  I never called him stupid, though he probably is.  If I were still participating I would call him a woose.  I have never encountered a man who would handle a disagreement online by calling the administrator to have someone they disagreed with banned.  I was tempted to express this sentiment to him, but I'd already given Facebook too much of my time.


If you care to read through the exchange what you see how a filter bubble are created when one disagrees with the narrative held by the group. People will;


  1. Immediately reject the opposing opinion without actually examining it
  2. Manufacture a position that was never asserted and argue against it (attacking a strawman)
  3. They will make statements that are factually inaccurate to support their arguments
  4. When reason fails, and the fallacy of their argument is made plain, they will claim to be insulted--taking the critique of their statement personally
  5. Finally, when all else fails they will remove you from the group


Now obviously I could care less about being booted from a Facebook group; 


The main takeaway from this exchange for me is that as @Mel Hopkins said I should devote my time working with people who get it rather than trying to convince people who don't get it. You don't need an MBA to understand that monopolies are bad.  My two antagonists below won't even concede that point and  reject the notion that Amazon is approaching or exercising monopolistic power.


I simply found it fascinating to see, first hand, how a filter bubble are maintained. 


If you decide to read through this exchange you'll find that I'm was no more "insulting" that I am here :)  I also removed the images and last names of everyone involved except Karen and myself.

Karen E. Quinones Miller shared her first post.


Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry? Let us know what you think by filling out this very short questionnaire: https://aalbc.com/…/2017/10/25/stop-buying-books-amazon-com/

Would you consider helping to organize, or joining an effort, to a boycott the buying of books from Amazon to reverse their control of the book industry so…
SabrinaI never buy electronic books. I have a kindle and never use it. Nothing can replace the feel and smell of a book.ve
DanielleI 100% agree! I was so excited when I got my Kindle, but it's just not the same. . .
Susan Thats what I say . I never use my kindle .

Carol Kindle all the time for me, read so many new authors since I got mine 
Valerie My friend has been rejected so many times from publishing houses as they are extremely restrictive so she has now published three of her series of sixteen books and they are so popular. No I won't boycott Amazon in favour of publishers and a more restricted choice of authors. Plus digital books don't waste trees. I love old books but don't want to kill more trees for a book.move
Helen I buy what I can afford and that certainly doesn't include places like water stones whose prices are extortionate x
Kerry I love the smell and touch of new books but environmentally, for me, it has to be the kindle.Remove
Gabby  I buy real books through amazon. I do admit I also have some ebooks of hard to find books.
DianaNope never...I love my kindle and my library...as long as Amazon offers books I'll buy them
Bill I can get a book that store doesnt have for cheaper on amazon and delivered to my door the next day.e
Amethyst The only way I read now is digital. I used to read about a book a week pre kids, now I can't remember the last paper back I read. But I got a Kindle and use Amazon and the OverDrive app through my library and I've read more books this year then I have in the past 4move
Crissy I can only read digital books because of my rheumatoid arthritis.  if I read a hard copy book I am limited to reading for short periods of time.

Sarah I hope people wouldn't, it's where I sell my books primarily.
Sarah I hope people wouldn't, it's where I sell my books primarily.
[below is where Karen shared this comment with me--otherwise i would have been oblivious to it]
Troy Johnson Hi Sarah, this is a comment sentiment shared by self-published authors. But you sell your books primarily with Amazon because they are a monopoly, the lack of options is always a bad thing If you are not old enough to remember Ma Bell, think about your local cable company. Today Amazon sells books at a loss, tomorrow this will not be the case. Indeed they have already started gouging third party vendors simply because consumers are treating Amazon as if that is the only place to buy anything on line. Please tell us the how much Amazon takes from the sale of your books and if you believe this is fair?anage
Sarah Amazon takes 30% from the sale of my books which I believe is totally fair as it is far less than any other outlet would take. Boycotting amazon is completely irresponsible as it removes a livelihood from hundreds of self published authors. Frankly I hope this initiative falls so dead that it has the exact opposite to the desired effect. Why anyone would wish to see self published authors struggling even more is beyond me. I am honestly disgusted.
Troy Johnson I have just posted the preliminary results with tons of comments from people pro-amazon, anot-amazon and those who are unsure: https://aalbc.com/would_you_boycott_amazon.php
Troy Johnson María, Valerie, Roxanne It is interesting that some have made this an issue of Amazon versus mainstream publishing. Sure Amazon is manhandling the "Big 5" publishers, but my motivation for this action is to help independent authors, publishers, and booksellers.
Troy Johnson I'm not sure if you've read my article. In it I reference a report: Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities (Institute for Local Self-Reliance), you may download it here: https://aalbc.com/pdf/ILSR_AmazonReport_final.pdf Your explanation of Amazon's business model and the reason for the profits might change after reading more about how the company operates.

Troy Johnson María, being insulted is your choice. I simply did not think you read my article or any of the related information because of what you wrote. In many areas Amazon is, or approaching, becoming a monopoly. Surely you must realize a monopoly represents is a complete failure of capitalism. Now if you think Amazon is a reflection of capitalism working well; then we will have to disagree--no insult intended.


[Maria must have deleted the comment I responded to because it is no longer in the thread]

Valerie I purchase books from Amazon, Kobo, local bookshops, charity shops and mainstream sellers. I support local bookshops as I love them and don't want to lose them. So no this isn't just about Amazon.
SarahThen stop being a prat and kill this before it starts. You are going to HURT independently published authors beyond belief. Your actions are completely irresponsible and you clearly have not properly considered the consequences for the people who depend on ebook sales through Amazon to make a living.
Troy Johnson Sarah, my sole motivation for considering this action is to benefit independent authors, publishers, and booksellers. I would be willing to bet that I've made more money from Amazon that you have, since I've been an affiliate for them since 2002. If I were to boycott them I'd be cutting off a revenue stream--fortunately my livelihood is not dependent upon a single corporation. But again the very fact that you believe that I would "HURT independently published authors beyond belief" is precisely the problem I'm trying to solve. No author should be dependent upon one company. Again this is the situation monopolies create.
Sarah You obviously fail to see the point completely Troy Johnson. I have a very successful tuition business and rely on amazon precisely zero for the roof over my head. Others are not so fortunate. Attempting to make them destitute to further your own political cause in this way is frankly despicable.
Troy Johnson Being hyperbolic and accusing me of wanting to make others destitute is absurdly hyperbolic and/or disingenuous. But thanks for your comments.
Sarah That may not actually be your aim, but if this poorly thought out action were to succeed that would be precisely the result. I know you think you are doing a good thing here but your grasp of the potential consequences is atrocious.
Jess Sorry, I absolutely agree with Sarah. I have several friends who are self-published because they were refused over and over by the big publishing houses who are nothing but pleased with their experience publishing through Amazon. My sister-in-law used several different avenues to publish and Amazon has consistently been the best for revenue and getting her book out to the most people.
Troy Johnson HI Jess so you too agree that a Monopoly is good for the public? Here is another anecdote for you. I have been paid consistently by Amazon as an affiliate since 2002. But I'd be willing to boycott because writers, publishers and even readers are bei...See More
Jess Troy Johnson its interesting that several people who are publishing digitally via Amazon I've discussed your comments with have the same general opinion of your boycott "I don't want to cut off my nose to spite my face. Compared to what I made before, which is zero, I'm not selling at a loss on Amazon."
Jess Several also are of the opinion that you are trying to squash the livelihood of digital-only published authors. I'm not a writer, just a reader. But I will say you can pry my Kindle out of my cold dead hands, and my 86-year-old grandmother would probably kick you in the shins if you tried to take away the 15+ books a month she's able to read thanks to a resizable font screen and Kindle Unlimited.
Troy Johnson Jess I hear you, but can't you see that Amazon's monopoly on ebooks allows them to completely control the market place? Don't you see that the lack of competition actually reduces choice and raises prices? Do you think it is good that ebooks can be only read on devices controlled by one vendor's software? Suppose another vendor like B&N introduced a better eBook reader and called it the Nook, no one would buy it because of Amazon's monopoly of eBooks. This reduces innovation over the long term.
Jess Troy Johnson, I have both a Nook and a Kindle, actually. I prefer the Kindle. Not to mention B&N was already caught-out price fixing and I got a tidy refund thanks to the lawsuit. Since then I've given my business to Amazon and dont plan to do otherwise. I pay $100 a year for Prime. Amazon is one stop shopping for me, along with streaming movies, video, music and free/low cost books. 

Amazon employees a lot of people in my area, and the ones I know personally are happy with the company, pay and benefits. That also means I pay sales tax on Amazon because we have a local fullfillment center the next town over, so I have no qualms from a concerned citizen perspective about dodging state tax revenue.

You are twisting the argument about proprietary file types. The Nook was a closed system as well. I can download Kindle books to my phone, laptop, computer, other tablets etc. and read them with a free app provided by Amazon. That was a stretch for you at best, and makes it look like you're grasping.

Amazon's monopoly? I clearly said in my original post that my sister-in-law self-published through multiple avenues, but Amazon has been the best at revenue. So, how is Amazon a true monopoly when folks can self-publish other places? I have a close friend who justsr published a series and paid extra on two of the self-publishing websites for advertising and release day promos that never happened. Their response? "That sucks. No refunds." So the issue isn't all pricing, its not being very good at business. Amazon is good at what it does. Books are a loss leader for them. Its true. But dont pretend that an author is any more entitled to big bucks than a game developer or musician. There are self-published people who have made a nice sum off an app game that's gone viral (Candy Crush anyone? And that wasnt even original, it was a knock-off of a PC game from the 90s) and millions from a song (too many examples to list) at $1 a pop. You're complaining about what? $5 each on an ebook? When they've put in just as much time developing games and music as you have writing a book - likely more. 

Also you fail to address that Apple colluded with Random House and several other large publishing houses to set the price of books to break Amazon and later get a bigger cut. Short memory?

Finally, I find your assertion that it has the potential to hurt readers over time because its so hard on the industry amusing. That argument may have held water 20 years ago before we saw what the music and movie industries went through. But after all of the threats that bands would stop making music, film studios would stop making movies, and we'd see the end of independent labels its been the opposite to a laughable extent. Labels and studios are making less money, but I've still been to 11 concerts, 15 movies and bought several albums this year. There's been an explosion of independently created entertainment content thanks to the internet. I discover bands I would have never heard of before on Spotify and buy their music on Amazon. I can watch independent movies and shows on YouTube and various other avenues and kick them money directly via Patreon. Just like I can buy ebooks from independent writers and spread the money around. Your problem isn't with Amazon, its with progress.

Look the frank answer is, be glad you get paid for your books at all thanks to Amazon. Lots of people will kick out a couple of bucks for a book, but if they had to pay $15+ for a digital copy every time you'd see an even bigger jump in book piracy. If we want to get technical I could buy all my physical books at HPB amd Thriftbooks, and get my digital on Pirate's Bay but I don't. The music companies finally learned $1 a song via ITunes and Amazon was better than nothing. Its 2017, not 1917.
Troy Johnson I appreciate the thoughtful reply Jess. It is fascinating that you could make statement like this,

"Books are a loss leader for them. Its true. But don't pretend that an author is any more entitled to big bucks than a game developer or musician." 

First you gloss over the fact that Amazon is selling books below cost and completely ignoring of the ramification of that and then say that writers need not be paid well--like musicians. 

I just discovered a website with links to a few articles that explain these issues in more detail than I have tome to go into now. If you have time check them out, you might see thing from a different perspective: https://socialjusticebooks.org/about/why-boycott-amazon/ otherwise I'm sure their is nothing I can say to help you see a larger picture.