Facebook to Publishers – We Aren’t Going to Save You

Yesterday we talked about the odd silence at the recent AMMC, as publishers largely shied away from calling out social media for the damage it has done to the industry. So what does Facebook have to say for itself in all of this?

Facebook’s Campbell Brown pulled no punches, according to Garrett Sloane in Ad Age.

“Facebook cannot be the entire solution to your problems,” Brown said. “By its very nature, Facebook is constantly changing and not dependable.”

Brown, you may recall, joined Facebook last year as their head of global news partnerships. At the time some heralded it as a new age, a true partnership between social and traditional media aimed at rebuilding consumer trust. I was skeptical at the time. Now, I’m convinced it’s bunk.

Sloane dives into the specifics, writing: “It was a sobering and frank message for an industry looking for answers. Facebook has endured criticism from media companies for encouraging them to invest resources into its distribution platform. Facebook has persuaded publishers to push into live video, fast-loading Instant Articles, longer Watch videos and other offerings, for example, but none have reaped significant returns.

“Brown acknowledged that Facebook shares responsibility for not communicating perfectly in the past, and for giving publishers the impression that if they just plunge into the new products, they will see bigger audiences and ad potential,” Sloane continues.

Rather, Brown stressed the “feel good” commitment Facebook is making to support local journalism, at the same time telling the audience that their short-form video push – which many publishers poured enormous resources into at the expense of long-form content – is a bust.

“We don’t reward those things anymore.” Brown said.

At this point, the message should be crystal clear. Facebook will continue to do what it wants while making concessionary nods to conciliation and partnership. They are not to be trusted to do the right thing for this industry, for journalism, or for the things that really matter to so many of us.