Tech by VICE

Facebook-Dependent Content Farms Will Finally Die

The algorithm tweak will show us who has REALLY already diversified their traffic sources.

by Carles Buzz
Jul 1 2016, 4:54pm

Photo: Martin Varsavsky/Flickr

Facebook has made the drastic and controversial announcement that it will value content from friends over content generated by pages of media outlets and brands. Truthfully, it's only controversial if you are a publisher of content meant to invade the feeds of regular people.

Facebook has essentially announced that facilitating the monetization of externally monetized content is no longer important to them. Your media brand's content will not be prioritized over the personal content of humans.

It's time to see which media brands have actually diversified their traffic sources. Content farms have been built to scale, with Facebook as the traffic cannon that has finally been disarmed. Email newsletters, chatbots, standalone apps, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are some of the strategies for diversifying the flow of eyeballs to popular media brands. Even the multi-platform content model attempts to diminish Facebook's importance by promoting other platforms.

Facebook challenges the world to be content-conscious, considering where the content came from and why it showed up in their news feed

For publishers with a limited reach, the promise of a global, mass audience that Facebook once provided has been terminated. You will only ever be niche, and your traffic will come from a pittance of sources.

The Facebook announcement diminished the value of content from publishers: "Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. That is still the driving principle of News Feed today. 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."

Whenever Facebook announces an algorithm feed, it is resetting the content-consuming palate of the world. Facebook challenges the world to be content-conscious, considering where the content came from and why it showed up in their news feed. When the feed no longer feels like an essential part of daily life, the feed must be reset. The content that once defined the algorithm will be purged from relevance.


The company claimed that many users were complaining about missing posts from friends and family. In order for Facebook to remain relevant to people, it can't be considered the most valuable by media brands. In essence, being part of 'the media machine' devalues trust in the product by the actual users. Now is the time for Facebook to publically remove itself from the business of aggregating the news, and instead focus on being the representation of what real people want the news to be: clickbait of their own creation.

Facebook is terminating the content farm era after a bountiful supply of content had been harvested for the platform. Medium-tier publishers and independent websites will be be obsolete due to their puny platform due to their puny reach, while big-box content farms with in-page content will have a relationship that is both monetized and symbiotic.

Facebook doesn't have an incentive to bring content to you that isn't monetized within their platform. News will still be trend-dependent, but you'll be siphoned to pages that have the Facebook seal of approval.

The algorithm change is part of the evolution of content consumption away from a medium of text, image and links. Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said that Facebook is likely to be "all video" in five years. Clunky links with description text that launch users off the social platform obviously has no future within it. Instant Articles were made available to all publishers in April, and so far there's been minimal coverage of their success or lukewarm performance. Instead, Facebook will return to its roots with regular people using its cloud storage system to capture and store the most meaningful moments in their lives.

When the Facebook Live feature launched, Fortune reported that 100 million hours of video content were watched on mobile devices daily. Video is the future, and Facebook can't solve the problem with monetizing media, or even be the most important mechanism in any alleged fight to keep 'authentic media' alive.

Tweaking the Facebook algorithm is meant to kill the wasteland of content that supplies the living, breathing stream that keeps people thinking Facebook is relevant. The influx of sources without authority has compromised the experience. When you have a whole industry of publishers creating content meant to be liked and shared, liking and sharing means less. Content farms are great at producing content for a social platform like Facebook, but if you want maximum engagement, it's time to put the humans back to work.

Life on the Content Farm is a column written by the last relevant blogger.

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