Facebook has been through quite a lot since its humble beginnings in 2004. Allegations of negligence in policing content and ads, interference in the 2016 election using their platform, and a massive privacy scandal are only some of the problems the social media company has encountered. Facebook has impacted online journalism atmosphere in numerous ways. Including a push to promote video content that left news outlets in limbo.
In one of their more obscured issues, Facebook enticed several media companies like Vox and Mic into investing funds and people into video. Facebook touted high numbers of views on video content. However, Facebook’s flashy viewership numbers were only temporary—and possibly fake—which pulled the rug from under publishers when the concept failed.
An allegation from 2018 claimed that Facebook was inflating video viewership by nine times the actual rate. The company’s alleged fraud came as it offered new incentives for video. Facebook began announcing their inflated viewership numbers, drawing media companies into a trap.
The situation only grew worse with what Facebook regarded as a “view.” On the social media site Youtube, which exclusively publishes video content, a view is 30 seconds of viewing content. In Facebook’s terms, a view is a mere three seconds. So, gaining views on Facebook, which accumulated quickly, cost less than running ads for clicks, and media companies saw the growth in engagement they were looking for.
However, the shift to video came at the cost of hundreds of jobs. People who worked in text media were fired and replaced by people who worked in video production. The reverse happened when video views plummeted and companies were forced to pivot back to text media.
Between 2016 and 2018, media companies fired more than 350 people. Jobs lost included those who worked in text and video alike. This does not include small local companies who may have been involved.
While it is important to note Facebook’s role in this decision to switch to video, media companies also chose to take part in the swift, yet destructive, switch. And by doing so, media companies dug themselves into a pit with little to help them get out of it. Facebook, again, collected the benefits of another problem that was the product of their own negligence.
The Atlantic Magazine; Madison.com