Internet Publications and Facebook

A knockout blow from The Onion. The title says it all: "Media Organizations Make Pilgrimage To Facebook Headquarters To Lay Content At Foot Of Mark Zuckerberg”. Pretty much sums up the current climate in online publication.

 

“Our editorial staff has labored much over this offering, and we present it to you with the utmost respect and deference. Should you see it fit to spread far and wide, optimized among both desktop and mobile audiences, we would be most grateful, sir…”

 

From the little I’ve heard about trends in the space, it’s boggling how much control Facebook has gained over the online publication industry. It’s all so toxic, and it’s only getting worse.

Publications seem to be forced to adopt the clickbait-y business culture heralded by the likes of Buzzfeed, perhaps by their own growth objectives but more so by external pressure, from Facebook and its users. Thus content is rapidly decreasing in quality, whether it be from outright Buzzfeed copycats banking in on the growth market for such articles, or established/reputable/niche sites that shouldn’t have to stoop so low to question what people wouldn’t believe happened in some viral video.

It’s horrible for Facebook, too. Just to premise, Facebook was never great in the first place. Maybe good, but never great. It’s poorly designed (overall, although some iOS apps are better) and always attempted to be something it shouldn’t nine times out of ten. Remember when the site was half social network, half Miniclip? I’d say now it’s third spam articles, third ripped Vines, and third social network (a small third, at that).

But it’s where we all ended up.

They did a decent enough job at offering a better place for online socialisation than its predecessors (e.g. MySpace, Friendster, Multiply, etc.), the initial spark; and offered anything they could to keep people from leaving, the fuel to the fire. That’s what they’re still doing today.

They saw such an opportunity - seeing that millions of people discover and read articles through Facebook - and are doing anything they can to control it, by controlling the publications themselves. It’s kind of like the music industry, and how record labels exert so much control over artists. The effects on content are similar - quality declines in favour of ephemerality.

(Via The Onion)