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Media is collateral damage

14 January 2018

From Business Insider:

Publishers and media companies got a rude awakening on Thursday after Facebook announced sweeping changes to its News Feed.

In a dramatic shake-up Facebook said it would start playing up status updates from friends and family in the News Feed, effectively deprioritizing content from media publishers and brands.

Publishers in particular — many of whom have relied on Facebook to build up huge audiences and achieve viral gold — are likely to take a hit from the change.

. . . .

“Facebook is dramatically reshaping its business in response to the first real existential risk since gaining dominance,” Derek Mead, Vice Media’s global executive editor, who was previously the editor-in-chief of Motherboard, said in a tweet. “And media is collateral damage.”

. . . .

“I cannot overstate how much Facebook is just screwing our news operations and our democracy over and over and over,” said Audrey Cooper, San Francisco Chronicle’s editor-in-chief, slamming Facebook’s move to solve its fake news problem by getting rid of news altogether.

. . . .

Facebook told some publishers that content from reputable publishers would surface on the News Feed based on the new algorithm, Digiday reported. But it didn’t define such a publisher or say how others may expect their traffic to change.

. . . .

Brown suggested publishers could weather the change by prioritizing content that “encourages community connection.”

“Some pages may see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease as the updates roll out over the next couple of months,” she wrote.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

PG wonders if we have reached Peak Facebook.

PG has had a Facebook page for TPV for a long time. Basically, he uses an app that automatically takes a post on TPV and reposts it on FB. No offense intended to those who love FB, but PG’s personal FB use as far as reading content on FB has always related solely to what a handful of family members and close friends post.

He checked FB when he saw the OP and FB stopped adding posts to the Facebook-TPV page about three weeks ago. Perhaps the plugin stopped working or maybe TPV has been kicked off the island. PG will check to see if he can get an automatic forwarding app back for those who like to see TPV via FB.

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17 Comments to “Media is collateral damage”

  1. It always makes me shake my head when a newsperson – reporter or editor or what have you- tries to classify the actions of a private enterprise as as censorship or limiting free speech.

    For a industry the very existence of which is made possible
    By the Constutution they sure as hell don’t understand it.

    I’m not sure how Facebook is “screwing our democracy over”. Much like PG I suggest not may be wasting a lot of our time but I’m not seeing a link to the foundations of our democracy there.

    As an aside these articles always make me wonder if these enlightened people every consider that when Facebook or amazon or twitter or whatever big bad corp that are mad at does something that supposedl attavcks the constitutional rights of the users that if a billion people use Facebook by definition most of them are not beholden to said Consitution.

    The world is bigger than San Francisco.

  2. Facebook is doing exactly the right thing.
    Their system is about gossip and social interaction, not about news or marketing. The best way to get out of the discussion of media bias, fake news, and politics is to get out of that lose-lose game. They’re not going to lose any meaningful traffic or revenue.
    People will still post links of “news”, rumors, and urban legends but Facebook will be free of any responsibility over any of it.

    Oh, and big media isn’t collateral damage. They are the intended target of the move.

  3. FB is how I keep from going crazy. I have online friends, and connection to the family members who post things occasionally, and some of my online friends write.

    FB is FREE, I keep telling them. It is a business. If it can’t run itself as a business, it won’t be there. It is wise to keep making sure its business model works. Some of that involves ads. Another part involves not p****** off their members.

    It – and all the mainstream media – made several big mistakes which, IMO, led to the mess we have today in the government because they didn’t vet news before it was allowed out into the news feeds, and a lot of fake news was treated as if it were real. They need to fix that – I don’t envy them figuring out how.

    There will be outcries – from those affected. Too bad.

    Hope FB can make it work – because I use it like PG does, to stay in touch easily with a part of my world. But there is no model for how that will be: they will have to work it out as they go. At least, unlike traditional publishing, they seem to have an understanding of what the real problems are.

    • “Fake news” has been a problem longer than you or I have been alive. We need sites like Facebook to “vet the news” about as much as we need literary gatekeepers to vet the books we read.

      Also, whenever an online service is free, you are not the consumer: you are the product.

    • I don’t really see how Facebook could “vet” whether news is fake or not when “real” journalists either can’t or won’t do that, and they’re getting paid to. I told the story here before about how I kept my job by refusing to publish what would now be called fake news–but a CBS reporter had to resign because he stupidly published it. And yeah, I’m calling him “stupid” because all he had to do to keep his job was follow the basic rules of journalism that even high school reporters follow.

      I’m seeing a lot of media professionals forget those rules these days. Facebook is not in the journalism business, and it’s good that they’re recognizing that. Helping people talk to their relatives is their wheelhouse, vetting news is not.

  4. Just like Big Pubs are loosing control over publishing Big Media is losing control over media because of FB, or Twitter, or YouTube, etc. Just like Big Pubs, Big Media thinks and insists they’re the anointed body to disseminate the truth. Although more and more I find that the so called truth is biased, or outright distorted.
    Facebook and others (Google) have been under pressure to “clean up their act,” sort of speaking, after foreign powers used the FB for their own purpose, or “unsavory” political views are posted on their platform. So if they will do that who will determine at FB or Google who should be censored and who should not?
    I thought there was such thing as free speech in this country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. wrong, right or indifferent, and don’t need a private corporation to censor or even black list people for what they say. Specially when such corporations are monopolies. Or we might as well be in China where every thought and expression is controlled by the state. Or by politically motivated private entities like it is here.

  5. I love the movie, The Social Network, I watch it often. FB on the other hand makes no sense to me.

    I have accidentally created about half a dozen FB accounts over the years. I would see the offer of a free book from Scribd, all I had to do was sign in using a FB account. I’d create the account, go looking for the free book, nothing there. So I’d spend the next half hour shutting down the security settings, logged off, then forgot FB. Then months later I’d do that all over again. HA!

    It turns out that FB is like taking a Polaroid picture. I needed to create the FB account, then log off, then go back in to connect to Scribd. I was like Bull Shannon from Night Court, crumbling up the Polaroid picture before it developed. Who knew.

    The few times I log on to facebook I am faced by thousands of people wanting me to “Friend” them. I don’t know any of these people so why would they be trying to contact me. I was curious one day and looked. It seems that there are dozens of people using the same name as me, only a number different, so all those people are simply trying to connect with every version of my name on the system in the hopes of finding their friends. I simply log off and ignore FB.

    I do not see FB or Twitter existing five years from now. They are supposedly worth billions, yet they are like the Dot Com companies that vanished with the turn of the millennium when they were rightly seen as vaporware. All it takes is the next market reset, when the vast “wealth” vanishes with the market crashing to below 7000 once again.

    Remember, AOL was going to rule the world. Look what happened to it.

    • It may be comforting to think Facebook is going to be history in five years but I doubt it.
      Twitter yes.
      They’ve been looking for a buyer for a while.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.recode.net/platform/amp/2016/9/14/12876560/twitter-acquisition-options-google-facebook-apple
      But Facebook will last longer than that.
      Especially if they follow through and do divorce big media.

      Humans gossip.
      And the plan to focus the “news” section pn friends&family posts is doubling down on gossip. It’s the right move. If nothing else, because it is veracity-neutral. It is about FB acting as a platform and not a curator.
      As long as they minimize curation (blocking only clearly illegal content) they’ll remain the go to place for online watercooler chat.

      You can’t serve two masters in the online world: you either serve subscribers or the powers that be.

      Twitter chose big media and celebrities. It is top down communication, old style broadcasting.

      Facebook is peer to peer, subscriber to subscriber: they remembered it just in time.

      • Interesting link. Especially in context with how Twitter is today, over a year after the article. I can use that. Thanks…

      • I’m not so sure, Felix. I’ve had an on-again, off-again thing going with Facebook for a while now. I was an active user until 2014, deleted my account, then got back on a year later because it was the only way to keep up with my local church group. Deleted that account and moved, only to be faced with the same dilemma almost a year again later.

        What I found with my last account is that Facebook has been going the way of Myspace. It’s cluttered with all sorts of useless crap that makes the site busy and difficult to navigate. Those who have been on Facebook the whole time probably haven’t noticed it, but for someone like me, who’s taken a lot of time off, it’s incredibly obvious. The site is just too bloated.

        Facebook hasn’t been “cool” for several years now, and there’s a rising generation full of Facebook-nevers that poses a serious threat to the longevity of the site. It may take several years for Facebook’s fall to become apparent, and we may never see a new site rise to overtake it the way that Facebook overtook Myspace. But to answer the question that PG posed, it’s not only possible that we’ve reached peak Facebook, but likely.

        Will humans continue to use the internet to gossip? Yes, but Facebook is neither necessary nor sufficient for that purpose.

        • No. They’re not indispensable. And they may eventually be gone.
          But not soon. Not five years. Ten? Possible. Twenty? Probable.
          Unlike twitter, they make money by the boatload.
          Unlike Google people actually use their platform.
          And, if they do refocus on small group communications they stand a chance of keeping their current users.
          User inertia and the tyranny of the installed base works for them.
          The real danger for them is the rise of alternate communication channels. New usage modes. Disruptive tech.

          Like, people forget that the second most popular social network isn’t twitter but Xbox live. And that twitter may not even make the top ten. Frequency of use matters, not just number of subscribers.

          Notice that I said small groups. That is another difference between twitter (and what big media wants FB to be) and what FB is. Big media wants broadcasting to massive user bases but FB exists primarily to serve closed circles. Cliques. Families.

          Point of note: I have two Facebook accounts. I actively use neither. But my siblings and cousins and day job associates all rely on it to stay in touch with their tribes.

          In the (really) old days people rarely travelled more than a couple miles from home. Today a family can span continents. That won’t change until the asteroid hits.

          There is a need for something to enable gossip across distance. Once it was Ma Bell. Now it’s Facebook. Eventually something else will rise. But Ma Bell had a long ride. Facebook probably will too.

          • Facebook’s stats are mostly bogus, though. In some demographic groups, they claim to have more users than exist in the population. Bots, sock puppets, and the like are a problem at Facebook just as at Twitter.

            Facebook could continue to be the largest social network by user base for the next decade, and yet still be in terminal decline as most of those users are inactive, logged off, or operated by bots.

            • The users may be bogus, but the revenue isn’t. Will FB decline? That’s a sure bet. Everything does. But revenue and profit are still in an increasing phase.

              I remember when Windows ruled the world, and there was no room for any other operating system to get a material foothold. Now we have IOS and Android doing pretty well.

            • Facebook reports account numbers.
              And since they prefer people keep their professional pages separate from their personal pages (or at least they used to when I created my accounts) there is nothing odd about regions having more accounts than residents.

              As for decay, well, their revenue runs in the $30B range and it has been growing steadily. And since their revenue is 97% ad revenue, which depends on eyeballs and clicks, that means the number of impressions is growing. It also means that they have a long way to go when/if decline arrives.

              Again: yes, twitter can *easily* be gone in a few years.
              But Facebook is in no imminent danger. There isn’t even danger on the horizon.

  6. I gave up on Google+ years ago, and I was smart enough to avoid FB altogether. I can’t see the usefulness of either platform, other than to cause stress and annoyance.

    Besides, as far as I know, none of my family uses FB. 🙂

  7. I’m with PG when it comes to Facebook – I have an account and my blog posts are sent there [and Twitter] automatically, but that’s about the extent of my interaction. Really, seriously dislike the interface and ‘home’ has always been my own blog.

  8. Same here. I use MailChimp to send my blog via RSS and email to subscribers and also to FB. One (a weekly) goes to my regular FB page, and another, almost daily posting goes to my author page at FB. And that’a pretty much the only time “I’m” on it.

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