Sorry, governor: It wasn’t me; it was Facebook

One of the things I hate about Facebook is the way it will randomly grab an image from my blog to go with a post that has no image.

People think I spend a lot of time on Facebook every day. I don’t. When I post something on my blog, the headline and link automatically post to Twitter. All of those Tweets — plus all of the Tweets I compose directly in Twitter itself — automatically post to Facebook. It’s not me; it’s the (14)

If there was a picture in the post, that also shows up in the Facebook post (which up to a point is cool — I wish Twitter would do that, too).

But when there isn’t a picture in the post, Facebook goes and finds one. As often as not, it grabs one of the scores of header images that are generated randomly from my image library to display at the top of each page on the blog.

This makes for some picture appearing with posts that are wildly unconnected to the subject matter. Which is frustrating.

I particularly hate what it did last night — pairing the header image below, from Nikki Haley’s campaign appearance with Sarah Palin in 2010, with the headline “These are some bad guys. Some really, truly bad guys,” and the link to my post about ISIL.

Please allow me to apologize to Gov. Haley (and to ex-Gov. Palin, although you couldn’t really see her). I know I’ve been critical at times in the past, but I did NOT mean to say that about you.

And I wish to set the record straight with everyone else. I was not saying that about our governor.

The only good news in all this is that to the best of my knowledge, you could only see the governor in the phone version of Facebook (the iPhone app version, anyway). The iPad version and the browser version randomly cropped the image so that you couldn’t see anything but some of the granite steps. Which looks stupid, but at least doesn’t seem to say something I don’t mean to say.

Facebook can be such a pain…


24 thoughts on “Sorry, governor: It wasn’t me; it was Facebook

  1. Bill

    Poetic justice.She is a bad guy.How many people have died because of her refusal of Medicaid money?

    1. Jeff Mobley

      Probably zero. We can debate cost of care (to individuals and/or to taxpayers), and perhaps timing/location of care, but people aren’t dying because Medicaid wasn’t expanded. In fact one oft-cited story from Oregon showed no significant difference in health outcomes between those on Medicaid and those with no insurance at all. “Why should we expand an inefficient and fraud-ridden program when that program might not even improve people’s health?” is a legitimate question.

      1. Lynn Teague

        The Oregon study was based on very short-term data with several built-in biases. As time goes on longer-term studies, including one in a very recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, point toward significantly better health outcomes attributable to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion.

        I especially take issue with your comment that you can debate timing, but not deaths. For many serious diseases (cancer is obvious, but there are many others) timing is everything. Free clinics can’t do tests for everyone who is a little short of breath, or has a few aches and pains. By the time someone gets to an ER they tend to be very sick. Yes, they get treated, but could their disease have been cured if identified earlier? My brother let his insurance drop and didn’t see a doctor about a persistent sore throat. He eventually went to the ER, but by then there wasn’t much they could do, it was Stage IV oropharyngeal cancer. How can you say that there might be an issue of timing, but there is no impact on mortality?

        Finally, you may be aware of this, but for the record — very little Medicaid fraud involves patients defrauding the system. It is the providers who do so, and even then there is no reason to suppose that the fraud rate is any higher than for private insurance.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Guess who said this:

          “As we move forward on health care reform, it is not sufficient for us simply to add more people to Medicare or Medicaid, to increase the rolls, to increase coverage in the absence of cost controls and reform. And let me repeat this principle: If we don’t get control over costs, then it is going to be very difficult for us to expand coverage. These two things have to go hand in hand. Another way of putting it is, we can’t simply put more people into a broken system that doesn’t work.”

  2. Jeff Mobley

    Lynn, I’ve tried to address some of your points below, but first let me say that I am sorry about your brother. I’ve had some friends and relatives who had cancer pass away, but never a brother or a sister.


    Here‘s a link to a summary of the Oregon study, and here‘s a piece by Ezra Klein that warns against making too much of it, including your point about the short-term nature of the study.

    I mention fraud not to malign patients covered by Medicaid, but to suggest that Medicaid is a flawed delivery system for health care. The attorney general’s website includes the following statement:

    Since 2008, the SC MFCU has recovered over $62 million and helped win over 90 criminal convictions in health care fraud and abuses cases.

    I’m glad there have been recoveries, but that’s a lot of fraud. I happen to think that it’s reasonable to ask if there’s a better way we can accomplish what Medicaid is supposed to be doing.

    I just think that generally, when people have choices to buy the kinds of health insurance they want (as opposed to the kind of health insurance the governmant thinks they need), then the system will slowly start to become more efficient. And for those in difficult circumstances, it would be better to give them a premium support voucher, or to set them up with an HSA with some funds already in it, than to force an inefficient system on them.

    Perhaps it is unrealistic of me to absolutely foreclose the possibility that even one person’s lifetime could have been significantly lengthened by the Medicaid expansion. By the same token, it may be possible that someone has died after having difficulty finding a doctor in their area who accepted Medicaid patients, and that that person may have fared better under an alternate health care delivery regime. The other thing is that whatever the eligibility criteria for Medicaid, there will always be someone just outside eligibility. In other words, there will always be someone who may have benefited (maybe even with a longer life) if the state had just spent a little bit more on health care. But when resources are limited (as they always are), leaders have to allocate them as best they can to meet the state’s responsibilites and perform the functions and services of government, and when they make those tough choices, it won’t do to tell them they have blood on their hands.

  3. Norm Ivey

    “It’s not me.; it’s the algorithms.”

    It only posts automatically if your settings tell it to post. And I suspect it only posts a picture if your settings say so. It’s on you; not the computer.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Yeah, but Facebook has a long history of regiggering on the fly in ways that set new controls (or an initial lack thereof) people are not aware of until after the fact. We can all blame the user, but fundamentally it’s a pretty slipshod platform. Because, well, because it is what it is.

      1. Brad Warthen

        I gave up trying to figure out how it decides to give me SOME posts from people I follow — excuse me, “friends” — and not others. Seems random to me.

        Twitter is straightforward: If I follow someone, I get that person’s Tweets — period. That’s what I want.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, as I said, it’s a GOOD thing when it uses a picture that is actually part of the post. I wish Twitter did the same. The problem is when it goes elsewhere on the blog (usually to the header image), grabs something and crops it randomly.

      And actually, normally, even that is not a PROBLEM. It’s just irrelevant and rather stupid. Just another illustration of the silly notion that everything on the Web has to have a picture, any picture, to go with it. So I have to calculate: Is it worth putting up with THAT to get the benefit of FB picking up the relevant images that actually go with the posts?

      It’s just that in this case, someone could think I was saying something I was not saying…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well Facebook grabbed an image of Joel Lourie to go with a headline about corrupt legislators for a Free Times article covering the two separate stories a week ago…

    3. Doug Ross

      I’ve never changed any settings and never have had a random photo appear with my posts. Seems really off that it would do that just due to the possibility of bad things happening.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    On my blog, the only image that is in the header is the photo of me shooting clays, so that’s what comes up every time I put a blog post on Facebook. I think the combination of your rotating blog header and Facebook’s method of grabbing an image are what you have to deal with.

  5. Paul DeMarco

    “Perhaps it is unrealistic of me to absolutely foreclose the possibility that even one person’s lifetime could have been significantly lengthened by the Medicaid expansion.”

    Brother John, you can strike the “perhaps” from that sentence. I am a physician who sees patients for HopeHealth, a community health center in Florence. The majority of patients I see are uninsured and I can attest to the difference that insurance makes in their lives. Every time an uninsured patient dies suddenly, we should ask the question, did their lack of access to care contribute to their death? Sometimes the answer is no, but surely you can conceive of a patient with undiagnosed coronary artery disease ignoring it because they don’t have the funds to see a primary care physician and don’t want to run up a bill of thousands at the emergency room. If they ignore it too long, they may suffer sudden cardiac death and be found dead at home.

    But helping prevent these kind of dramatic deaths is not the only attribute that Medicaid (or any insurance) provides. It provides access to expensive medications to control diabetes and hypertension to prevent coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney failure; it provides access to imaging, specialty care, and health screening services (e.g., I defy you to find me a single uninsured patient who has paid out of pocket for a screening colonoscopy); and it provides the simple peace of mind knowing that your are spared making decisions about whether to pay your rent or see the doctor.

    If you are the Jeff Mobley from Columbia who ran for state senate, your profile says you work as an analyst for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. How ironic.

    When you cite the Oregon study, your logic would suggest that Medicaid doesn’t change health outcomes for poor people. Then why would it change outcomes for people of means like you and I? Medicaid is good insurance, in some respects better that private insurance in its coverage (including that there is usually no significant deductible). Could Medicaid be more user-friendly and efficient? Of course. Is it subject to fraud? Certainly. But those critiques are true of BC/BS as well. See this link from 2013
    You argument generalizes to “Insurance does not affect health outcomes.” It is interesting to me that every person I’ve ever heard make this argument has health insurance. You’ve added the caveat that “Insurance might work if the government paid private companies (coincidentally enough like the one for which I work) to do the job.”

    However, private insurance offers its own set of troubles, including incentives that put profit above patients. See which describes the huge profits BC/BC makes and the million dollar salaries their top brass rake in.

    If you are really interested in learning the practical effect of insurance on patients’ lives, I’d love for you to spend a day in my office seeing patients. I suspect that time might broaden your perspective.

    1. Jeff Mobley

      You argument generalizes to “Insurance does not affect health outcomes.”

      As the Ezra Klein piece I referenced noted, the results (specifically the health outcome results) of the Oregon study could imply one or more of several things. One of which could indeed be that insurance does not affect the specific health outcomes measured in the study over a short period. Klein considered that a sobering thought, but it was not the only possible implication of the study. Another could be, “Medicaid is not great insurance”.

      When conservatives point to the Oregon study, we’re not saying, “Don’t worry, poor people don’t need insurance”. What we’re saying is that federal one-size fits all programs aren’t the best way to address these needs. Frankly, I happen to think that it would be better to take average amount spent per Medicaid beneficiary and just give them that amount and let them buy the insurance plan they want. But everyone in the country shouldn’t be force-fed my solution, either. That’s why I think people like Rick Perry and Scott Walker and Paul Ryan, who say we should just block grant it to the states and let them handle it, are on to something.

      The other point I tried to make, about limited resources, goes along with the first point. It’s bad enough what we’re doing to future generations in terms of debt, but it’s even worse to think that we’re probably not even getting the results we could be getting for the money we’re spending.

  6. Paul DeMarco

    Sorry Jeff, I misidentified you at the beginning of my post as “Brother John.” You are Frere Geoffroy, not Frere Jacques.

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