Facebook's Fake Video Stats Might've Crashed The Online Media Economy
As you're probably aware, the internet economy is an absolute shambles at the moment. Or you might not be aware. A lot of news websites have closed down, after all.
One of the big reasons for this was the ill-fated "pivot to video," whereby online outlets started focusing less on written content and more on the kind that starts with "What's up, YouTube?" Why? Mainly because they could see through Facebook's tools that videos shared over social media got way bigger numbers than written articles. "We're entering this new golden age of video," Mark Zuckerberg proselytized in a 2016 interview. "I wouldn't be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people ... are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video." Naturally, everyone wanted in on that action.
Fast-forward a few years and ... whoopsie-doodles, it turns out Facebook was lying their asses off.
The video metrics that Facebook reported to publishers -- such as total number of views, average viewing time, etc. -- were inflated by as much as "60 to 80 percent," a little glitch they reportedly discovered in early 2015 but didn't (quietly) cop to until September 2016. They knew this looked bad, because it was bad, so they rolled out the fixes veeeeery slowly and without telling anyone, specifically so that "advertisers ... won't notice significant changes." It's like if a restaurant found out they'd been accidentally seasoning food with rat poison, then took two years to replace it because they didn't want to change the taste.
Meanwhile, the media-wide pivot to video was marching onward, as publishers laid off writers and editorial staff in order to "ramp up video production" (said Vice) or "shift resources into short-form video content" (said MTV) or "focus on our fans' growing appetite for premium video" (said Fox Sports) or ... well, you get the picture. And of course, once publishers failed to see the gains Facebook's geniuses had promised them, they began laying off the same video staff they'd invested so much money in. It's a heartbreaking situation for many of your favorite websites, and you can find out more information about it in the video version of this article on You- oh, right.
Facebook Paid A Company To Spread Conspiracy Theories About George Soros
Facebook plays a large role in how conspiracy theories enter the mainstream (population: your dingus uncle), but you probably assumed that said role is restricted to standing around and refusing to do anything about them. Well, as it turns out, they see nothing wrong with giving online wackos new material if the target is someone they don't like.
Enter George Soros -- billionaire, philanthropist, Holocaust survivor, and (despite what Alex Jones and Roseanne Barr might tell you) definitely not a Nazi. After Soros called Facebook a "menace" to democracy that needed to be regulated, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg immediately ordered her staff to look into his financial interests, figuring that getting even richer was his only possible motive. Yeah, why would someone who lived through the Nazis be honestly interested in helping preserve democracy? It simply doesn't add up.