I don’t follow Facebook trends, so to speak. If I have a general guiding philosophy for helping articles I write and edit thrive on the mass network, it’s that with small and independent outfits like DigBoston—specifically, those which still have a popular print edition—we definitely benefit by spending minimally every week on Facebook ads, though we could still strive without it. I would probably feel differently if I worked for a bloated media behemoth, the kind that rides or dies according to how much it’s willing to shell out paying to boost posts, but in my view as a small-potatoes editor, we get at least as much out of the site as we put in.
On the other hand, fuck Facebook. With a big, blue middle finger. It’s impossible to know what kind of place the publications that I work with would fill in the overall media ecosystem had such bribable technologies not come into existence, but I do suspect that we’d at least have less pubs that lack proven track records reaching a point of influence that far exceeds the reputations they deserve. If you have an aunt or uncle who pollutes your feed with articles from Upworthy and other brain drains, then you know what I am talking about.
As any frequent user or consumer of tech media is probably aware, Facebook is a problematic monster. From its discriminatory treatment of cannabis advertisers, to its apparent soft approach to checking hate speech, to privacy concerns and quirks galore, there’s no end to the aggravation we endure to share, promote, and join the public square. I’m not writing about those gripes this week, though; rather, I felt that as an editor I should reach out to loyal readers for help navigating around Facebook’s latest timeline speed bump. As their Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri wrote in a post last week:
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.
Some publishers are asking readers to specifically select their outlets, and we sure as heck hope that you find the “News Feed Preferences” tab on your mobile app and “prioritize” DigBoston. At a higher level, we are seeking new and better ways to reach you—from adding dozens of new street boxes to finding feeds and channels to share through that don’t pull the rug out from under your plans every few months.
In the meantime, we’ll still be quarreling with other alt and independent crabs in Facebook’s barrel, hoping articles that we work tirelessly on find readers. When you see us down there scrapping, it would be great if you’d extend a sharing hand.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.