Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Case of the Disappearing GFC Followers.....

I am aghast. I am totally discombobulated.

As most of us bloggers are aware, whether we blog about books or something entirely different, Google has been toying with the GFC followers' widget for quite some time now. 

First they said they would eliminate it entirely, and then they suddenly decided to not make it available for Wordpress blogs, or any blogs using any other blogging platform that was not the one owned by them -- Blogger. And now they have suddenly started messing around even more.

This is really BIG, SURPRISING NEWS for me, and I'm sure a lot of bloggers are up in arms about this, having found out about it before I did. I'm just now crawling out from under my rock, folks. And I'm not at all sure that complaining to this humongous corporation would do any good....

Just the other day, I noticed, when publishing articles to this blog, A Night's Dream of Books, that some of my GFC followers had inexplicably disappeared. They weren't many, though, so I chalked it up to some people not liking my blog anymore, and unfollowing me. But the next day, there were more....and then the next day, there were STILL more. There have been more today, as well. For the past three days, I've been seeing fewer and fewer followers in my GFC widget. I used to have 1,321, and am now down to 1,245 and counting.....

Of course, I decided to GOOGLE this disturbing discovery. Well, guess what? The Almighty Google Corporation has now decided that, if anyone who wants to follow a blog does NOT have a Google account, they can't follow that blog using the GFC widget! Yes, that's right -- unless you have a Google account, you won't be able to follow your favorite blogs with the GFC widget. 

But what REALLY RANKLES is that they are actually REMOVING followers from the GFC widgets of Blogger blogs, if they find that these followers do not have Google accounts!!!

I happen to have another blog, titled MindSpirit Book Journeys. This is a literary fiction/nonfiction blog, and I only had four GFC followers on it, because I don't post to it as much as I do to this one. Well, would you believe that Google has removed one of those four followers? Now I have three!  WHY would they bother with a blog that only had FOUR GFC followers?! I'm just pointing this out to show the whole RIDICULOUSNESS of this thing, because the following on that blog doesn't really concern me that much

My search brought me to the Blogger Help Forum, where I found the "explanation" for this mysterious, totally INFURIATING phenomenon. I am providing the link so all of you who read, follow, and comment on my blog can see and absorb the information for yourselves. 

Please click HERE to access Google's "explanation". The article is dated 12/21/15.

Like any large corporation, Google is entirely insensitive to the needs of "the little people" -- namely, we the hard-working bloggers, who have taken YEARS to build up our following. Many of the comments left on this article point out that fact. The article "helpfully" suggests that we contact those of our followers that do not have Google accounts, ask them to sign up for such accounts, and then re-follow our blogs. SAY WHAT?! First of all, these followers have been removed from one day to the next, so bloggers have lost their contact information. Second, even if we still had this information, how many of these former followers are going to go to the trouble of opening up Google accounts, and THEN re-following each and every blog they used to follow before Google's mighty hand swooped in and took them out with one swipe? Seriously. Furthermore, it would be the height of arrogance for me to expect any of my FORCIBLY-REMOVED followers to accommodate my desire to have a healthy number on that blasted GFC widget.
I'm trying to breathe. I'm trying to stay calm. But this is a REALLY UNFAIR thing Google is doing. 

On the other hand, it might be pointed out that we who use the Blogger blogging platform don't pay for the service, so Google, who is the owner, has the right to do whatever they want with it, as well as with any widgets associated with it. Well, that might be something to be considered, BUT, and this is a HUGE "BUT" (no pun intended....maybe), our free blogs DO provide ADVERTISING REVENUE for Google, which is most likely why Google does not charge for the use of the Blogger platform. So, we're right back to this being UNFAIR, as well as totally uncalled for. 

At this point, I can think of only two alternatives.

1.) Bloggers (including myself) can stop using the  Blogger platform, and switch to Wordpress, or some other blogging platform.

2.) We can stop displaying the GFC widget on our Blogger blogs, and only offer Bloglovin', Linky Followers, and mail subscriptions as follow options. Of course, there's also Google + (I really don't feel like giving this one as an option, though, for obvious reasons), Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook (although I have a grudge against Facebook, too, but that's another story).

On yet another hand, I'm also thinking that the number of GFC followers is really a totally meaningless number. Do all of my GFC followers interact with my blog on a daily basis, by leaving comments? Obviously not. Some of them might read my blog posts, but, of those that do, very few leave comments. True, having that nice, big number displayed on a blog does look good. Besides, authors and blog tour companies wanting to get their books reviewed by bloggers always want to know how many followers the blogs have. They are usually referring to the GFC followers, as this figure is a very public one. Of course, it wouldn't make sense to offer a book for review on a blog with less than 50 GFC followers, for instance. 

This topic has been discussed by other bloggers before. Just how meaningful is that GFC figure? Just how useful is it, in terms of evaluating a blog's popularity and dynamic interaction?

I would say that, regardless of how you look at the issue of how valuable and ultimately useful the number of GFC followers is, it still hurts to see these followers suddenly start disappearing in DROVES. It hurts an awful lot....

As for my first suggestion above, I really don't want to go to all the trouble of transferring my blog to Wordpress, even though they do offer a free blogging option. This would just be too much of an inconvenience. I am therefore considering the second suggestion, and just not displaying the GFC widget anymore. I don't know which will make me feel more depressed -- not seeing the widget at all in my blog sidebar, or seeing a steadily diminishing number of followers every day..... Somebody will probably be thinking, "This is a no-brainer." Yeah, maybe it is.... So, if you visit my blog one day, and no longer see that GFC widget in the sidebar, you'll know why.

As of 12:15 PM today,
I am down to 1,238 followers.
(That's a total of 83 followers gone.)
This seems to be a stable
figure for now, but who knows
if my numbers will continue
to go down?
If they do, I will DEFINITELY
remove the GFC widget.

What do you think about what 
Google is doing?
Have you been losing  your
GFC followers, too?
What suggestions can you offer to those of us who use the Blogger platform?
Please leave a comment below!


  1. I am not a blogger for long, but I am a blog reader for over two years. I can tell you my opinion about GFC: it is pretty meaningless.
    I started ''following'' blogs via GFC only and for the main purpose - to enter a giveaway. I don't even know how to read any blog via GFC.
    And I bet that one third of GFC followers use that option for the same purpose.
    Those blogs that I follow via bloglovin and email, those are that I do read.
    Yeah, most of the time I'd follow a blog via bloglovin and GFC, but as I said, GFC is there just because. Okay, Sometimes I do follow via GFC jut to support the blogger, but that's it.
    GFC is pretty meaningless from my perspective.
    On my blog I have only these options to follow: bloglovin, email and twitter.
    I think that is enough options.
    I am not familiar with Linky so I can't have an opinion about it, but so far, I don't think that I'm missing sth.
    If someone wants to read my blog, I think those three options and enough.
    At the end of the day, it's not about how many followers you have, but how many page visits.

    1. Hi, Irena!

      I've been blogging since 2010, and my follower GFC count had been rising due to my hosting giveaways and participating in blog hops. I wanted to do blog tours and receive free books from the tour companies as well as individual authors, and I knew that they all look at how many GFC followers a blog has. SO I considered the number of my GFC followers important. I still do, because I still want to receive free review books from time to time.

      In regard to actual interaction, I do agree with you that the number of GFC followers is totally meaningless. As I stated in my post above, not ALL of my GFC followers actually leave comments on my posts. Of course, I have no idea how many of them even read my posts. There are a few loyal ones who do, but, for some reason, I just don't get that many comments on my posts..... Even when I comment on other people's blogs, I don't always get comments back.

      Still, it does bother me that Google is doing this. It is simply NOT fair for them to be REMOVING current followers from GFC widgets. And they expect bloggers to contact the people who have been removed, to ask them to get Google accounts, and then re-follow their blogs?! DISGUSTING.

      I am now down to 1,238 followers, if you take a look at my update in the post. If I lose more, I will just not display the GFC widget on this blog anymore.

      The Linky Followers widget is right in my sidebar. This widget was created back when Google was saying they might eliminate the GFC widget completely. Not many of my readers have followed with the Linky widget, though.

      As you say, Bloglovin', Twitter, and email seem to be the best following options. I especially like Bloglovin'!

      Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment!! : )

  2. You couldn't have stated it out any better! I was shocked to see my GFC followers count to have dropped drastically, and like you, I assumed it was because readers simply unfollowed me. I tried not to take it personally and was thinking of ways to improve my blog, I never once thought it had something to do with Google's systems! Thanks for the clarification! To be honest, I very much preferred using Bloglovin to gain followers and to follow other blogs. Bloglovin resembles a blogger's version of Facebook and I thought it was so user friendly! It has been a long time since I relied on GFC. Back in 2012, I had already heard complaints about the GFC widget and bloggers were slowly switching to other platforms. I guess it is only a matter of time before we stop using GFC widget altogether!

    1. Hi, Natasha!

      You're very welcome for the clarification! I decided to post about this because I'm sure some of my GFC followers might be puzzled as to why they were no longer getting my post updates in their Blogger reading lists. So this post will let them know why.

      I have now lost a total of 83 GFC followers, and am very upset that Google is doing this! They could have simply changed their existing GFC policy for future followers, but left existing ones alone. Why they didn't choose to do so is really annoying.

      I know there are many bloggers who don't like the GFC widget, but blog tour companies and individual authors have always relied on the GFC follower count in order to offer free review copies. But I am now considering totally removing the widget from this blog, if I continue to see followers disappear.

      I like Bloglovin' a LOT. You can get post updates right in your mailbox, or simply by going to your profile on that site.

      I think you're right in saying that we will all (those bloggers who use the Blogger platform) end up not using the GFC widget anymore.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!! : )

  3. I might not have liked the drop in followers, but it makes sense what they are doing. Deleted the fakes is a good thing. Sorry if it kills your numbers, but who wants fake numbers anyway?!

  4. Hi, Freda!

    Hmmm.... It hadn't occurred to me that some of my lost followers might have been fakes. On the other hand, is someone a fake just because they don't have a Google account?

    If some of my followers were really fakes, then I'm glad they're gone. Sadly, though, I have no way of knowing whether or not any of the ones I lost were, indeed, fake accounts.....

    Thanks for the interesting comment!! I'm glad that YOU have a Google account, and are obviously not a fake!! : )

  5. Oh wow, I had no idea that this was going on! While my number of GFC followers had decreased I just chalked it up to people unfollowing/deleting their own accounts, not being forced which doesn't seem right. It wasn't on quite such a large scale and therefore I didn't look into it, so thank you for including everything so well written in your post. I'm sorry for all the distress it has caused you, clearly it's not okay :L I use GFC almost all the time when I visit and comment on other blogs, though other platforms like Bloglovin are more user friendly. Maybe I should think about changing that... I definitely have a lot to think about!
    Enchanted by YA

  6. Hi, Anna!

    Oh, I'm so glad the information I provided in this post was useful to you! And thanks so much for the compliment!! : )

    I'm now wondering if people without Google accounts will be able to comment on Blogger blogs. From what you've stated here, that won't be possible anymore, either.

    Although some people think that the GFC count is totally meaningless -- and I agree, to a certain point, because not all my GFC followers comment on my blog regularly -- I think it's still useful, because you can then get free books to review, that you wouldn't otherwise get. Publishers, authors, and blog tour companies pay attention to the number of GFC followers in that widget!

    I might end up not displaying the GFC widget anymore, and just going with Bloglovin' and Linky Followers, although not many bloggers seem to use this option (Linky Followers).

    I think it's a very MEAN thing Google is doing!

    Thanks so much for your empathy and support! What nice comment!! : )

    I think Google will end up doing away with this whole GFC deal anyway.....they're just doing it little by little. That's not very nice! But I suppose you're right -- Bloglovin' is the way to go, when deciimgn to followe a blog,

  7. This is really too bad. I know that these follower lists an important thing for a lot of folks. This move seems to be making the GFC Follower Widget irrelevant. Only showing folks with a Google account seems pointless.

    Jugging from other peoples comments, I seem like the only person in the world who uses "The Old Reader" as my primary method follow blogs.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      This is just another case of a corporation doing whatever it wants, without any regard for the people whom it affects the most. Google simply wants to MONOPOLIZE the blogosphere. They want to limit access to those blogs using the Blogger platform. This is not only UNFAIR, but also DISGUSTING. The blogosphere is for EVERYONE, not just for people with Google accounts!!

      You're right that they're rendering the GFC widget irrelevant. I'm sure a lot of bloggers using the Blogger platform have stopped displaying it on their blogs by now. If that isn't shooting themselves in the foot (I mean Google, not the bloggers), I don't know what is.

      Bloggers will simply start using Bloglovin' more and more. There's also "Linky Followers", although I've noticed that this following option doesn't seem to be very popular. Bloglovin' is, though.

      You know, it seems that the bigger a company gets, the GREEDIER it becomes, and this certainly seems to be the case with Google. They want to have the corner on the blogging world. And they don't seem to understand the meaning of the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

      The link I gave above has several comments, including mine. There's also another link I'll be including in this post, where there are even MORE comments (mine is also in there). I have so far not seen ANY comments at these links that praise Google's decision to do this. NOT ONE.

      But you know, what REALLY bothers me is that Google has REMOVED already-existing followers from GFC widgets on a LOT of blogs!! I realize they own the Blogger blogging platform, but this is totally ridiculous! They don't seem to care that we bloggers have had to build up our following, and that doesn't happen overnight.

      The GFC follower count is important for book bloggers who want to get ARCs and free books from publishers and blog tour companies. Obviously, not every book blogger is interested in this. I don't care about that over at my other blog, MindSpirit Book Journeys, but I do care about it on this blog. As you know, I participate in blog tours, and also receive free books to review from time to time, although I must admit I need to curtail these activities, because I have a LOT of books sitting on my shelves that I have not read.

      Anyway....I have lost a total of 83 followers by now. This is just NOT right.

      You can use "The Old Reader" to read blog posts, but if you want to be a member of a particular blog, you need to use the GFC widget, Bloglovin', or email subscription.

      I gained one GFC follower last night, so now I have 1,239 followers. Thank goodness this new follower has a Google account! Lol,

      Thanks for the great comment!! : )

  8. Please do not switch to WordPress! I recently discovered that a WordPress spam filter program or what ever it is called, has marked my email as SPAM. All of my comments are being sent into the junk box or something, on many of the WP blogs that I follow. I now have to email every single one of them and ask them to unblock me. I have just started and have yet to hear from any of the blogs I emailed. I looked online and other people have ran into the same problem. I'm sorry that you lost followers on GFC and in a way like this too. I follow blogs on multiple platforms, so hopefully some of those people who were removed did too.

  9. Hi Maria! Starting today, my Followers gadget is showing blank. My GFC followers are not visible anymore. I love your article, but I see you've still got - as of now - your GFC gadget in your sidebar. Maybe it's just my blog? Do you have any suggestions how to help me show my gadget again? MUCH appreciated :) <3 <3


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