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Hey, What Happened to the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook Page?

Hey, What Happened to the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook Page?

Maybe you’ve noticed, the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook page is missing. What happened, and when will it be back? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you’re interested in the story of what happened, please read on.

We started our Facebook page in 2009, and it was an immediate hit. People just like you flocked to it, and in the first year we had over 30,000 followers. By 2014, the count was more than 100,000, and just before the page disappeared, the tally of followers was nearly 120,000.

If you’ve followed Ghosts of North Dakota on Facebook for any length of time, you know we frequently liked to use that page to post updates while we drove the back roads of North Dakota in search of another cool place to photograph. You got to follow along. We sometimes encountered problems, however, when we would post a photo of an abandoned place, and for some reason, the post would go on one of our personal Facebook profiles instead of our Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook page. So, I appointed a third admin for our page, my wife, Rebecca. While we were on the road, Rebecca could fix any screw-ups for us, and she could respond to questions and comments, too. It worked great.

This past Monday, however, on the same day as the 2017 solar eclipse, we woke up to a surprise. We (the three admins, myself, Terry, and Rebecca) woke up to emails in our inbox informing us that we had been removed as admins of our own Facebook pages. Rebecca is a British royal history buff, and she discovered that her Facebook pages had been taken over and either deleted or unpublished, and our Ghosts of North Dakota page, too. Somehow, hackers had accessed her account, and using her admin privileges, had removed all of us as admins, and took over our pages.

It has now been three days, and despite more than a dozen messages to Facebook, a message to Mark Zuckerberg, and several hack reports, we have yet to get a single response from Facebook. I suppose it’s understandable since Facebook has two billion users and a woefully inadequate customer support workforce, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. As of now, we do not have a Facebook page, and our 119,000-plus followers are gone.

When will we get it back? Will we get it back at all? I wish I could say, but there’s been no response from Facebook, so I don’t know. The question that’s on my mind tonight is, do we really want/need it back?

Our Facebook page is what made Ghosts of North Dakota one of the most-visited North Dakota-oriented destinations on the web. The Facebook page is what made our first book possible, due to our ability to reach people just like you, who were passionate about North Dakota, and generously gave your hard-earned dollars to our Kickstarter campaign to fund the first book. And the profits from that first book turned into three more books. Facebook made it possible.

However, in 2014, things changed. Facebook implemented a new algorithm which made it nearly impossible for our updates to reach you unless we agreed to pay to promote our posts. People started to come around, asking “Why don’t I see your updates in my Facebook feed anymore?” And the answer was, “Because they want us to pay to reach you.” We spent thousands of dollars on Facebook ads to make sure that, when we came home with hundreds of photos, we could post them on our website and then make you aware of it by posting an update on Facebook. Despite all the dollars spent on ads and promotion, our reach kept dropping and dropping. At one time, I was able to employ myself as part of the Ghosts of North Dakota project, designing new books, researching new destinations, and planning new trips, but that all ended when Facebook laid their new algorithm on us. Our website traffic dropped by more than half, and the book sales revenue that we counted on to fund our trips and fund new books dropped by 75%. It’s something I wrote about previously (you can read it here) but never shared with the Ghosts of North Dakota audience because frankly, it’s embarrassing to admit that your business that was once on a rocket ride is failing because of something as silly as a social media algorithm. I had to stop paying myself and go back to work.

So, as of now, I am again working in my former field, and Terry and I have returned to treating the Ghosts of North Dakota project as a hobby instead of a job, which means fewer updates, fewer photos, and fewer books.

I tell you all this because I want you to understand where Ghosts of North Dakota is right now… at a crossroads. Without our Facebook page, there will surely not be a new Ghosts of North Dakota book any time soon, but even with the page, there was no guarantee, either. So, I guess we’re asking for your patience while we figure this out, and also your feedback on what you think we should do. Do we continue to wait for a response from Facebook that might never come? (We have read accounts by other Facebook page operators who never got their page back). Do we start a new Facebook page and try to rebuild a following that, taking into account Facebook’s algorithm and our lack of funds for ads, will take 10 years to rebuild? Do we say “to hell with it,” and just forget about Facebook altogether? Would you still follow Ghosts of North Dakota if we chose to use Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and our email updates to keep you updated?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments. And it goes without saying, now more than ever, if you haven’t subscribed to email notifications, please do. We’ll only email you when we have new content to share.

UPDATE: The hackers recently put the Facebook page back online, changed the phone number, and listed themselves as a “Public Figure” from Amman, Jordan. A copyright infringement report has been filed with Facebook. We would recommend you refrain from interacting with the page until it is back in our control.

Update 2: Ghosts of North Dakota’s Facebook page is once again under our control. There will be a post coming in the future which details how we got it back.

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Five More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

Five More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

If you’re like us, you enjoy all things North Dakota. Here are five more North Dakota-related sites you should check out.

Wild In North Dakota: They might be the most followed North Dakota-oriented site on Facebook with over a quarter-million followers. Wild in North Dakota is a non-profit organization dedicated to the “promotion, education, and awareness of the wild horse herd” in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Facebook | Website

1897 Red River Valley League: This excellent site chronicles the 1897 Red River Valley Baseball League which featured teams from Fargo, Grand Forks, Moorhead, and Wahpeton-Breckenridge. “The league featured future major league players, local heroes, reckless characters, economic unrest, and spirited rivalries.”
Facebook | Website

Dakota Death Trip: This fascinating site highlights the hardships our ancestors faced by examining the lurid. Through these stories of tragedy and misfortune, we learn a lot about the reality of life on the plains. Sometimes sad, other times humorous, you’ll get lost in Derek Dahlsad’s Dakota Death Trip for hours.
Facebook | Website

Fargo Underground: An underground chronicle of the happenings and events in North Dakota’s largest city via a super-clean, easy-to-navigate website, constantly updated with photos and videos. If you want to know what’s happening in Fargo, this is a good place to start.
Facebook | Website

Bismarck Cafe: Also known as BisMan Cafe and Bismarck Pride, this site features the latest news and happenings from the Bismarck/Mandan metro, plus historical data and photos from our state capital.
Facebook | Website

Photo by Terry Hinnenkamp

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Ghosts of North Dakota is Vanishing

Ghosts of North Dakota is Vanishing

If you’re one of the 114-thousand people who follow Ghosts of North Dakota on Facebook, you may have noticed that you’re not seeing us in your news feed much any more. There’s a reason for that, and it is prompting changes we’d like you to know about.

Over the last two years, Facebook has implemented a new algorithm that “squelches” posts from Facebook Pages (not personal profiles) so that most followers don’t see them. The effect has been dramatic on “organic reach.” Our posts used to regularly get 500 shares or more, but now we’re lucky if we break 100. Our posts used to reach 25 to 50 percent of our followers at any given time. Now, we reach one to two percent.

It’s important to note, this “squelching” of our organic reach affects more than just GND. We have seen dramatic impacts on posts that were meant to promote others’ endeavors. We once plugged another Facebook page about ghost towns and abandoned places, similar to ours, and their fan count multiplied ten-fold in three days. They went from 300 to 3,000 fans. Just recently, we tried to plug another gentleman’s website, a blog where he has posted hundreds of fascinating stories about North Dakota, and Facebook’s algorithm made sure that only a thousand people saw it, and he only got 75 new likes out of the plug, which is a shame, because his website is awesome, and we’re sure you would enjoy it.

Why would Facebook do this? Because they want us to pay to reach you. We’re not really comfortable with extortion, so changes are coming.

Here’s what you can do to stay connected to Ghosts of North Dakota.

  • Subscribe to Ghosts of North Dakota email updates. We’ll email you when we update the website with more abandoned places. Subscribe.
  • Follow us on Twitter. When we go on photo shoots in the future, our live updates from the road will be posted on Twitter, not Facebook. So if you want to follow along live, you’ll have to follow us on Twitter.
  • Check the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook page. Although Facebook is preventing our messages from reaching your newsfeed, you’ll always see our most recent posts by just checking our page every day.
  • Share, comment, and like. Facebook’s new algorithm is sensitive to posts you interact with. In other words, if you don’t share it, comment on it, or like it, Facebook assumes you don’t want to see it.

Update: Several people have asked us to point this out. If you want to make sure you always see our posts on Facebook, visit our Facebook page from a computer, and under the button that says “Liked” select “Get Notifications” and/or “See First,” as indicated by the red arrows in the photo.

updates

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Order Churches of the High Plains

Order Churches of the High Plains

Churches of the High Plains is a 120 page, hardcover, coffee table book featuring photos of churches, both active and abandoned, across the High Plains of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Manitoba. Churches of the High Plains is part travelogue, part photo essay, and all history appreciation, and includes comments from the photographers, historical tidbits, stories from current and former church members and staff, and a lot more. A wide variety of faiths are represented in this volume, including Catholic, Lutheran, Congregational, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, and more.

See the photo index.

See a preview

$34.95 in-stock Order below. Or get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.



Go Back to the Ghosts of North Dakota store.


Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Free Shipping on Orders $99 or More

Free Shipping on Orders $99 or More

Ghosts of North Dakota now offers free standard shipping on orders of $99 or more from our online store — hardcover coffee table books, retro tin signs, premium coffee, gift sets, postcards and more!

free-shipping

(Priority and international shipping not included. Merchandise total must be $99 or more, not including tax.)

Visit the Ghosts of North Dakota Store



Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Video: Memorial Weekend Trip 2013

Video: Memorial Weekend Trip 2013

After getting suggestions from several people that we start doing videos again, we decided to ease back into it and we did just a little bit of video on our trip over Memorial Weekend.  We stopped doing videos some years ago, mainly because there are only two of us, and when we go on a trip, we’re usually busy enough taking photos.  Video has never been our forte’ but we understand it provides a little glimpse inside our trips, so we’re happy to oblige.  We’ll probably do more in the future.  Enjoy.

Order Ghosts of North Dakota Books

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Bucyrus Fire Relief Effort

The Bucyrus Fire Relief Effort

Bucyrus, North Dakota was decimated by a wind-driven wildfire on October 17th, 2012.  Nearly all of Bucyrus was lost in the fire.  Thankfully, two dozen residents of Bucyrus were evacuated before the fire and there were no injuries.  However, Bucyrus’ residents have lost their homes and possessions.

We spoke with Adams county emergency management and they provided us with the following relief information.  Please do what you can to help these families in their recovery effort.

Monetary donations can be sent to:

Bucyrus North Dakota Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Dakota Plains Federal Credit Union
PO Box 1020
Hettinger, ND  58639

To offer other kinds of assistance, please check with:

Bismarck Red Cross
4007 State Street
Bismarck, ND 58503
(701) 223-6700

Adams County Emergency Management:

701-567-4598

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.