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Is the Facebook algorithm bypass a scam? Or is it a hack?

The viral Facebook algorithm bypass post is nonsense.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Here we go again, folks. It’s not uncommon — especially at this time of year for some reason — to start seeing all kinds of people posting the same thing on Facebook. Something about somehow “bypassing the Facebook system” or about how you hereby disallow Facebook from doing something that you absolutely allowed it to do by using Facebook in the first place.

No, it’s not a Facebook hack. No, you’re not telling Facebook to do anything. Or not to do anything. And, no, someone who posts this sort of stuff isn’t deserving of mockery. In fact, this isn’t new at all. Meta (nee Facebook) itself addressed it as far back as 2019.

The post (fad? meme?) starts out with a simple thank you. “I would like to thank everyone for telling me how to do the bypass,” it reads. “I wondered where everybody had been!”

They’ve, uh, been right here the whole time. The copied-and-pasted post goes on. “This is good to know: It’s ridiculous to have over 500 friends and only 25 are allowed to see my post.” The numbers may change a little bit. Not that it matters any. And it goes on to claim that “It WORKS!! I have a whole new news feed. I’m seeing posts from people I haven’t seen in years.” No, it doesn’t, and no, you aren’t.

Then it gets to the part about the so-called bypass.

“Here’s how to bypass the system FB now has in place that limits posts on your news feed. Their new algorithm chooses the same few people — about 25 — who will read your posts. Therefore, Hold your finger down anywhere in this post and ‘copy’ will pop up. Click ‘copy.’ Then go your page, start a new post, and put your finger anywhere in the blank field. ‘Paste’ will pop up and click paste. This will bypass the system.”

No, it really won’t. All that does is copy the message and then paste it to spread it. Or spam it, if you will. Because that’s really what it is.

And finally, it gets to the part that it’s really about. “If you are reading this message, do me a favor and leave me a quick comment … a “‘hello,’ a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed.”

“The idea that News Feed only shows you posts from a set number of friends is a myth,” Ramya Sethuraman, a product manager who works on ranking, wrote for Facebook back in that 2019 post. “The goal of News Feed is to show you the posts that matter to you so that you have an enjoyable experience. If we somehow blocked you from seeing content from everyone but a small set of your friends, odds are you wouldn’t return.”

That’s the trick. It’s not a hack in the sense that it’s breaking into your account or taking anything over. It’s a simply cry for engagement. It’s a trick to get people to engage on your post. And engagement is what Facebook is all about. It’s folks trying to get more attention on their posts. Not there’s anything inherently wrong with that.

It’s just that this is a silly, spammy way to go about it. You’re not hacked. And you’re not bypassing any system.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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