Online Publisher Dependent Upon Facebook Shuts Down, Blaming Algorithm Change

Mike Shields, reporting for Business Insider:

The media industry’s worst fears about Facebook’s huge algorithm tweak are coming true. The women-focused publisher LittleThings is shutting its doors, in large part because of Facebook’s recent move, the company’s CEO, Joe Speiser, told Business Insider. […]

Since launching in 2014, LittleThings had amassed over 12 million Facebook followers, and its videos regularly generated thousands, if not millions, of views.

But Speiser said the recent algorithm shift, which Facebook has said was designed to tamp down content that is consumed passively — and would instead emphasize posts from people’s friends and family — took out roughly 75% of LittleThings’ organic traffic while hammering its profit margins.

Here’s how utterly clueless Speiser was about getting into bed with Facebook. In June 2016, he told The Wall Street Journal there was no reason for publishers to be nervous about Facebook:

Media companies are increasingly nervous about Facebook. While many now rely heavily on the social network to drive traffic to their content and to help generate revenue from their audiences, some media executives still question Facebook’s long-term commitment to helping their businesses.

But according to Joe Speiser, chief executive of “feel-good” content publisher LittleThings, those concerns are unfounded. Facebook wants to control the experience users have on its platform, he said, but Facebook needs publishers just as much as publishers need Facebook.

“I think we need each other. We need them for the traffic; they need us for the content,” Mr. Speiser said on this week’s WSJ Media Mix podcast. “I think [Facebook] cares very much. I think without the content all these media companies are providing there’d be that much less reason to go on to the news feed.”

18 months later exactly the thing Speiser said he wasn’t concerned about — Facebook fucking him over — forced him to shut down his company. The only platform publishers can count on is the open web. Facebook is the biggest threat there has ever been to the open web. Any publisher that is dependent on Facebook, or that trusts Facebook, is out of their goddamn mind.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018