Facebook Turns Back To News

Common wisdom states never go back to your ex.

And yet, despite announcing in 2018 it would reduce the presence of news in the News Feed to 4% in order to prioritise content from friends and family, its now decided to jump back into bed with the news providers its made a hobby of burning so badly over the past decade or so.

What is perhaps even more surprising is that more than 200 publishers have decided to put aside past differences and get back on-board. That list includes the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Business Insider and BuzzFeed – and some of them will even get paid by Facebook to share their content on the platform!

That’s a big turn around from when the same publishers were biting Facebook’s hands off to get access to its audiences.

Considering the hit the Cambridge Analytica scandal took on Facebook’s credibility and the uncertainty surrounding its proposed launch of its crypto currency Libra, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was a cynical move to try to get the press back on side and win some free PR from the organisations it has burned so badly.

Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerburg took advantage of his little run with the US Congress earlier this week to tease the announcement.

"Later in this week we actually have a big announcement coming up on launching a big initiative around news and journalism where we’re partnering with a lot of folks to build a new product that’s supporting high-quality journalism.”
Mark Zuckerburg
Facebook CEO

Rather than solely relying on algorithms to feed the new news section, a small team of humans will curate the top stories in the new News Feed tab.

Of course, with over 60% of Americans believing social media has too much control over the news people see, questions are bound to be asked about conflicts of interest arising about what stories appear in the feed.

So what’s a publisher to do?

When faced with an ex-wanting a “backslide”, there’s always a temptation to go back – especially if they are offering up to $3 million to bring you back. And that is the conundrum the publishers face – risk turning down $3 million just to come on-board and the threat that other publishers will gain if you don’t?

That’s a risk the the likes of the New York Times appear unwilling to take – better to jump back in bed with the ex and risk things going bad a second time rather than see them happily settled with all your biggest rivals.

Personally I see this as a cynical attempt by Facebook to extricate itself from the Fake News scandals and curry favour with the publications that were so damning of it in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – I’d be keen to hear your take in the comments below.

4 comments

  1. Ethan Misiak

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my users would really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Thank you!

    1. Matt Wilkinson

      Hi Ethan,
      You are welcome to quote the article and provide credit and links where applicable.

      Happy New Year!
      Matt

  2. Michael

    But if they resist working with Facebook and providing their content there, another publisher will happily bring the same stories to the social network in return for the short-term traffic boost. There s always someone else willing to offer up dumb content to the smart pipe. And the real problem only manifests when Facebook shifts directions. Its comes to the conclusion that users want to see more video, so the format gets more visibility in the News Feed. Soon, publishers scramble to pivot to video, hiring teams and buying expensive equipment so they can blast the content on Facebook rather than thinking about their loyal site visitors. But then Facebook decides too much passive video is bad for you or isn t interesting, so its News Feed visibility is curtailed, and publishers have wasted their resources and time chasing a white rabbit or, in this case, a blue one.

  3. Creola Picolet

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