Business of Art Fix: Facebook’s News Feed “Tweaks” Could Hurt Indie Niche Publications Most Of All

Welcome to the 31st “This Business of Art / Media / Web Fix,” in which I share with you things I read that I loved relating to the work I do here — online media, business, entrepreneurship, women in tech, start-ups, journalism, publishing, management, queer visibility, and so forth. 


Facebook Finds New Ways To F*ck With Us

Now that Facebook has made publishers entirely reliant on its platform to reach their audience, they’ve decided to radically change how publishers can alert said audience about what said publications have published. This comes after several months of complaints from publishers that Facebook’s last algorithm tweak has already lead to traffic declines up to 40%.

The new algorithm will go a step further towards prioritizing information and updates shared by friends and family, rather than updates from Pages:

Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.

We previously made an update that tries to ensure that stories posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss them.

We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.

Facebook’s advice to “Pages” like ours?

“We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.”

Oof.

We were perfectly happy when Facebook was an afterthought, and most of our readers got here by typing www.autostraddle.com into their browser, but now times have changed and the majority of humans use Facebook as a newsfeed, clicking on stories shared socially rather than visiting pages directly. We’re lucky to be a site that still has a lot of direct home-page and referral traffic because of the strength of our community, but still, Facebook is wildly important for our day-to-day traffic and entirely responsible for posts “going viral.”

Here’s the problem: share-a-bility and quality aren’t the same thing. Some of the posts we’ve done here that have literally changed and saved lives would never be shared on a social network — they’re often pretty personal, and also PRETTY GAY (and, often, pretty sexy).

The viral = good formula is especially effed when you think about queer folks, or any niche community not necessarily of interest to a social network that contains your entire family and everybody you’ve ever known in your entire life.

Furthermore, wealthy publishers will retain the option to pay for boosted content or work with Facebook Instant — ensuring their stories will show up in your feed. Buzzfeed is estimated to spend over ten million dollars on Facebook boosting a year.

Content that goes viral is usually light/fluffy/funny [“14 things all introverts understand”] or instructive/incendiary [“you’re doing [x] allyship wrong”]. While both of those categories include really important and entertaining types of content, they aren’t the only content worth reading.

What can you do? We’ll post about this again this week, but to be sure our stuff shows up in your feed, go to the Autostraddle page, open the “Liked” drop-down, and select “See First.” Also, we encourage you to share and like our content as much as possible, which also increases how many readers will see our content in their feed. If two outlets are covering the same story and one of those outlets is us, please share! Also, subscribe to our newsletter to ensure maximum access to everything we do here.

The Washington Post has an annotated version of Facebook’s announcement and they make some really important points. A very particularly salient point is this: personal posts by users have gone way down, which means more posts from publishers have gone through. Posts from publishers have one thing wrong with them, in Facebook’s eyes: they make Facebook users LEAVE FACEBOOK. Also: ” “friends and family come first” in News Feed … unless a brand posts a Live video.” 


This Business of Online Media & Journalism

+ Our friend and lover Gaby Dunn writes about the importance of reading a contract, questioning a non-compete and owning your own ideas on Fusion, after Buzzfeed fired Brittany Ashley and Jenny Lorenzo for appearing in a web series during their free time.

+ “Scale for scale’s sake is a fool’s errand. BuzzFeed has successfully managed to scale using Facebook, and that’s been of huge benefit to them, but I think they are finding that that alone is not enough. Quality of content, experience, engagement are more important than scale for scale’s sake.”

+ The Washington Post has an excellent piece about the UVA gang rape Rolling Stone story that fell apart and became the worst nightmare of a journalist with over 20 years of experience.

+ We’ve already talked about how sad we were about The Toast closing, and now The Toast is closed, and everybody is sad. “The secret to the Toast’s greatness (and, maybe, the reason for its downfall) was its unwillingness to try for broad appeal,” writes Annalisa Quinn for NPR. Even Hillary Clinton is sad about The Toast and had words relevant to our interests, like “In nearly every industry, from publishing to scientific research, women have had to forge their own paths against overwhelming odds and less-than-friendly welcomes.”

+ Buzzfeed is closing their Ottawa bureau, exiting the Canadian political news beat.

+ Starting with food waste, The Huffington Post would like to inspire people to take action or change their behavior on social issues.

+ Finding out you can survive off reader donations is a thrill. It really is!

+ Yes, longform readers trust The New Yorker more than they do Buzzfeed.

+ How publishers can be more persuasive with their anti-ad-block pop-ups (this doesn’t apply to us ’cause we don’t do pop-ups, but.)

+ Gawker has built a tool to bring comments into the Facebook Instant news feed.

Buzzfeed is getting on the “fake news beat.”


This Business of Magazines

Pillars of Black Media are struggling for survival: Two weeks ago, Chicago-based Ebony and Jet magazine sold their publications to Clear View Group, a private equity firm in Texas. But Johnson Publishing have stressed that Clear View is a black-led company and they consider the sale to be more of a partnership. The article is really fascinating about the history of Black-led media as well as problems faced by all niche-oriented publications when it comes to ad sales.

+ Women’s Running Magazine is breaking traffic records and exploding in popularity!

+ Iconic British lesbian magazine DIVA is under new ownership, making it “the first time in the magazine’s 22 years that it has been wholly owned by lesbians.” TWIN Media also owns Curve Magazine in the US and LOTL in Australia.

+ How the editor-in-chief of Redbook spends her Sundays


The Businesswoman’s Special

+ 8 questions that will sharpen a story idea

+ 8 tips to set up your home office

+ how to fix your company’s website

+ how to rock instagram to support your small business

to maintain focus, leave no trace of a task once it has been completed

+ 5 salary negotiation mistakes to avoid

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2822 articles for us.

19 Comments

    • THIS ^ ^ ^

      Altho, recently I’ve noticed fb showing me a shit ton of stuff about friends of mine liking on other (non mutual) friends’ posts. Mundane things like profile/cover pic changes, check-ins, etc. Like to the point where these “your friend liked on someone else’s photo” posts outweigh Page posts. ARGHHHH

  1. I freely admit to being one of those people who use their Facebook as a news feed (one that I carefully curate and which is probably much more left-leaning than any major news publication). But Autostraddle is one of the places where I actually go to the homepage every day.

  2. Been doing a lot of research on non-competes for work lately and I’m getting more and more squicked by BuzzFeed’s consistent use of really aggressive language in their employee contracts. Thanks for addressing that in these links. The Gaby Dunn article was perfect.

  3. I was def using FB as a news aggregator during the Paper era, but now that the app is being discontinued I don’t even know how to see those feeds anymore. And they weren’t perfect. Sometimes anti-LGBT articles would pop up in the Pride feed.

    But obviously, I always come directly to the source for my AS.

  4. Sometimes Buzzfeed has some really great content. But I am not willing to scroll/click through pages of absurd quizzes and curated lists of tweets to find them. And when they do post some good long form I always approach it like a strange, unexpected discovery… surprised and suspicious. If they are also publishing fake news… ugh.

    • i was confused about that too, but it’s not that they’re publishing fake news–actually the opposite. they’re going to post articles debunking fake news stories. it seems kinda cool maybe.

  5. I got off Facebook and all social media earlier this year and I love it. I feel so much more free, and while I feel kinda out of touch with friends, it makes for much more meaningful in person contact.

    When it comes to news, I check NPR and Autostraddle everyday (multiple times a day), and you all keep me in the know. It also keeps me spoiler-free!

    • high five for quitting facebook! It’s been a huge relief to me, as well. I am sure I miss some things but not enough to care.

      I have mixed feelings about Twitter right now. I love it! So much sharing of interesting things! Lists let me control rather well what things, also. BUT it’s become a huge time-suck… so I am tempted to quit it too. Especially when terrible things happen, it makes it so easy just to get glued to all the sadness/outrage which hasn’t been great for my mental health.

      But for now I have downloaded SelfControl and just block it for 24h at a time so that I only use it on my phone which is more limiting and makes me more aware of how long I spend going down the rabbit hole.

  6. In re: Facebook sucking: I have noticed that I’ve seen an upsurge in my NPR articles (not necessarily a complaint), but Facebook isn’t showing me my local indie weather reports or very many Autostraddle posts. I come to actual Autostraddle daily, so I don’t miss much, but the new newsfeed algorithm is noticeably worse than its predecessors.

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