You may have heard the news that Facebook is going to be completely reorganizing the way people see stories on their newsfeed. This is horrendous news for every responsible media outlet — including us.
After allowing clickbait sites and fake Russian websites to spam users for years, Facebook has decided to take action by decimating the rest of the publishing industry by not showing their stories in your newsfeed. This has already started and the effects are severe. The New Yorker for example, has over 4 million followers on Facebook. An article shared yesterday on the deadly effects of the Trump administration’s deportation policy was shared only 132 times, meaning only a tiny percentage of their followers even saw the piece on their news feed.
Given we have a very active and passionate community at the Banter, proportionally we haven’t been hit so badly. But the effects are still very, very serious. Facebook is a major source of traffic for us, and therefore our revenue. We are anticipating a huge traffic decline in the coming months that will very seriously cut into our ad revenue — the major component of our funding.
Nevertheless, we are continuing to invest in good content and are determined not to remain at the mercy of Facebook and its never ending newsfeed algorithm manipulations. We are bringing on new, diverse writers in the coming weeks and will be focusing more than ever on in-depth reporting and commentary. We are planning on diversifying the channels through which we distribute our content and will be working diligently to rebuild high quality traffic and readership.
It remains to be seen who will survive the social media giant’s latest war on publishers, but we are going to fight like hell to be one of them. This is by no means certain, and the angst felt by publishers around the world is very, very real. It is enormously disheartening to have built a large Facebook following over many years, only to have the platform decide randomly that those who have taken the time to follow you won’t be seeing anything you post. Facebook was supposed to democratize the media, but instead it became a platform open to manipulation by unscrupulous actors with little to no oversight. In response to their colossal failures during the 2016 election and the rise of a fascist presidency, they are now severely punishing legitimate organizations in an already fragile media industry that relies on it to survive.
Facebook claims it will not be punishing media outlets like ours, but history has shown that this is not the case. We have never, ever engaged in clickbait, and we strictly fact check everything that you see published here (Media Bias Fact Check rates our factual reporting as “High”). Nevertheless, Facebook has routinely cut us off from our followers creating traffic slumps that cut our revenue by as much as 70% from one month to the next. We have survived only because Banter Members have ensured we are not completely dependent on ad revenue.
Going into 2018 and the midterm elections, it is vital that the public have access to legitimate, fact checked reporting from serious media outlets. Facebook has decided that it is going to restrict that access and has left publishers like us in the dark.
We have an incredibly supportive member base that has kept us going through the years, and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude. Your support is now more important than ever, so if you value what we are doing at the Banter, please consider becoming a paid member and investing directly in truly independent media. With your membership, you get access to all of our long form, Members Only content for less than a dollar a week. With your support we are less reliant on social media channels to distribute our content and far less reliant on ad revenue. If you are reading this, please know that the Banter is your home and your contribution is sincerely appreciated.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.