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This Woman Built a Successful Facebook Community and then Shut It Down. Here’s Why.

International life means going out and doing.

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BY Suzanne Lucas - 12 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Social media is a key to a lot of things in today's modern life. So, if you've built up a big group on Facebook, you'd want to nurture and grow that group, right? Well, Naomi Hattaway, founder of I Am A Triangle, grew her Facebook group to over 16,000 people who were living or had lived outside of their native culture, and then shut it all down and moved to a new platform.

Why on earth leave a platform that had been so successful? Hattaway explained:

  • Search sucked. One of her major goals was to help people, but in order to help people out, Hattaway needed a good search function. "There was no way to search 'my husband just took my children and I'm in a country with no rights,'" she said by example. She wanted her members to find that information quickly.
  • Vetting was difficult. It all had to be done by hand.
  • Facebook's suggested links caused problems. Hattaway explained: "Someone posted a link to an article about an Israeli man who had designed a really great suitcase, and Facebook posted links to articles about US-Israeli relations. That is something I was not cool with."
  • Those three dots. You know the three dots--the ones that tell you someone is adding to the conversation. It's designed to keep you on the page. Hattaway wants people to visit her page, but then go away and live their lives. Being a Triangle means getting out in the world.
  • Facebook algorithms meant that people were missing a lot of posts. "I am a Triangle is about learning from others," Hattaway said, but Facebook shows people things that are similar to other posts they've liked or commented on. They weren't seeing any posts about differences.
  • Her new platform, Mighty Networks, allows subgroups. "If you are a pet-free home, with no children, and you don't want to hear about travel, you unfollow those topics and they don't appear." And if you are interested in something, you can follow that and even join a group that meets in person, called Tri-connects. "We have one for international development, foodies, LGBTQ+ community, et cetera. It opens the doors to have people meet other people who will matter in their lives."

It wasn't easy leaving Facebook behind. But, a month into it, I am A Triangle has 3000 members. Hattaway understands that Facebook has the appeal of already being one of your habits, and it takes time to make a new habit, but she's convinced that this group will help more people with the struggles of being a Triangle in a Square and Circle world.

What does it mean to be a Triangle?

While the United States was "home" for Hattaway, she felt lost. She and her family had come home from living in India and Singapore due to an illness Hattaway contracted. When she arrived, she didn't know where to find people like herself--people who had lived around the world and didn't quite fit into any one place. Through a mission training experience, she learned a concept that explained what she was feeling.Replace your home country with the idea of a circle--everyone who lives there is a circle and there are holidays, celebrations, languages, and food that are specific to this circle country. You, as a circle, pack up and move to a different country--square country. Square country is filled with squares. They have holidays, celebrations, languages, and food that are specific to Square country. The longer you live there the less you are like a circle, but you're not a square either. You're a new, different shape--a Triangle.

Hattaway aims to continue helping people all over the world with her new platform and plans to register it as a charity next year so that she can expand the help people receive. It's her passion. And she intends to pursue it on her own terms; not on Facebook's.