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Lucy

Facebook yanks the football away from news publishers one more (last?) time.

Published onJul 28, 2022
Lucy

A piece detailing Facebook’s latest cutback to funding news on the platform was posted to Axios an hour ago, but, uh, tell me this sentence couldn’t have been written at any time in the last 10 years:

Why it matters: As the company moves forward with sweeping changes to the Facebook experience, news has become less of a priority.

Just off the top of my head, this is something like the 5th time I can remember Facebook incentivizing certain news publisher behavior on the platform and then abruptly cutting it back. Luckily, the Tow Center maintains an exhaustive timeline of all the times the platform (and others) have had fun pulling the football out from publishers.

Needless to say, we shouldn’t exactly be surprised at this point, and any publishers relying on Facebook for significant amounts of revenue have, er, not learned anything from the last decade and probably don’t deserve to exist. But it’s funny to see the carousel turn once again — not just on defunding news, but on deprioritizing it on the platform, which the network has gone back and forth on so many times that I’m surprised all us industry watchers don’t have permanent cases of whiplash.

The real problem, of course, remains that Facebook’s core business is not compatible with promoting high-quality, but less engaging, information. But for once, that could be changing. As Axios mentions, the “sweeping changes” coming to the platform this time around aren’t due to the whims of executives or once-new features becoming less prominent, but to the business model’s decreasing effectiveness as the network contends with Apple’s aggressive privacy features and competes with the likes of TikTok (which some news publishers are cautiously embracing).

With any luck, this time the profit pressure combined with the latest move to drive news off the platform will further cement its reputation as a grist mill for junk and conspiracies and hasten its necessary demise as the world’s central information organ.

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