Image by energepic.com
Social media sites don’t care about content creators. First it started with YouTube, when it was discovered the Google-owned company was demonetizing content creators’ videos if they didn’t fit into Google’s narrow terms and conditions. Therefore creators of popular and emerging YouTube channels alike found they could not make money off their videos. Your video includes a swear word? Demonetized! Your video includes content we deem not to be child friendly? Demonetized. Your video…um, we don’t know? Demonetized.
Now Facebook has made it that little bit harder, with their introduction of a second newsfeed called Explore. While it’s still being tested, this signals a rapid change in how businesses and people alike will use Facebook. In a dramatic twist, these tests involve the use of two newsfeeds: one for your friends and promoted content, and the second—Explore—for all the pages you’ve liked that haven’t paid Facebook for sponsored posts. Currently it’s only available in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia, but it’s only a matter of time before Facebook approves it for the rest of the world. While their intentions sound helpful, it’s anything but. Here’s what a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable:
People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages
Beautiful, right? Who’s sick of their friend’s statuses being drowned out in a sea of Facebook pages? You log in to Facebook to check out what your best friend or your aunt Marlene is doing, and next thing you’re stuck down the never-ending rabbit hole that is clickbait Facebook pages. What was meant to be a five minute session of looking at your old high school friend’s wedding photos is now you browsing through memes and dank memes, Buzzfeed quizzes and that Facebook page you like that mocks the political leader you despise oh so much.
Now, if you’re from one of the aforementioned countries, you’ll have to click on the Explore feed to check these out. And that’ll harm those meme and dank meme pages you regularly view, it’ll harm Buzzfeed and GigglyMommyMinionPage and TumblrIsLife. Who cares about Buzzfeed? you loudly retort. Well, it’ll also harm all the small pages—small businesses and funny personalities and Dank Memes for Authoritative Teens—and what would we do without those?
Facebook claims they have no intention to roll this out globally, and that’s positive news for now. But that’s likely because they need to find a way to maintain the same high number of clicks they get with the one condensed feed. Facebook wants your clicks. They want you on their site longer so they can earn more money from sponsors. They also want your money. Anyone with a Facebook page knows this: Facebook will constantly send you emails and messages informing you of the excellent benefits of “boosting your post”, i.e. making it one of those annoying “Promoted Posts”. The beta testing of the Explore feed seems to expand upon this, as Promoted Posts are the only pages that will appear on your normal newsfeed. If content creators want to keep making their income off Facebook, they’ll need to pay Facebook and pay them constantly just for the privilege of appearing in the normal newsfeed.
Continuing on from YouTube’s issues, this seems to be a problem that’s only getting worse. Content creators originally realized the importance of social media and decided to use these to help them out. But Facebook and YouTube don’t care. They’re out to make money, after all. They’ll change their sites how it suits them, not how it suits their users. After all, they’re majorly free sites, so most of their revenue comes from advertisers. Advertisers matter more than creators.
In the future, it won’t only be Facebook and YouTube. Many have clued onto this. Many creators annoyed with YouTube have created Patreon accounts to supplement their income. Facebook page creators are giving in to Facebook “boost post” button, or they’ve moved on to other sites. But what about new creators? What about those who disagree with those solutions and rely on the current way?
Well, there are two options: We must think of solutions before it is too late, or go the way of NeoGAF. Oh, wait, NeoGAF is back up now, but for how long? So many popular pages from years gone by have faded into the sunset—Upworthy, LadBible, Radio Lebanon and 9gag—and if we allow social media to keep its stronghold over us, many more will join their still-rotting carcasses.