Facebook made itself indispensable to media companies, "pivoted to video," changed its mind, and triggered a industrywide mass extinction event

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/04/fraudulent-viewer-numbers.html


Hang on. Let me work up a batch of tears for those poor Silicon Valley parasite companies with no discernible business plan other than “Moar Ads!!” sucking on VC teats who thought FB would be their shining path to liquidity.


promising young journalists

Like NowThis with its garbage content and native advertising?

I’m not sure anything of value has been lost.


I understand why businesses feel they need a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but companies trying to build a business model that’s almost entirely reliant on a capricious scumbag company are playing a mug’s game.


I’m ready to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Or force each of them to be owned by Yahoo for three months.


Video also requires so much more of the audience in terms of attention. I can skim a whole article in a few seconds to see where it’s going and determine if I want to invest more time in it. Even fast forwarding or jumping around on a video, I may not be able to discern its point unless I fortunately stopped it at the right moment. So if the title or preview image isn’t damn fascinating, I’m just going to skip it.



I hate video online. They should’ve known better (not that it excuses fb). Seriously if you want me to invest my attention and time to a video you better convince me with words and static images first.


Installing Stephen Elop or Marissa Mayer as CEO for a year would achieve similar societally beneficial results.

It’s a mixed bag, but I find 20-minute-plus videos annoying if there’s no accompanying transcript or at least a CC track I can rip out. Decades later this still stands as a joke:


Yes. That’s exactly why I very rarely watch videos.

I never understood even the theoretical appeal of the supposed pivot to video and always wondered if some vast group of millennials actually enjoyed clicking on a video and spending six minutes watching a mediocre video display graphics that would have taken one minute to read.


I dunno, BB just had a 15 minute video about a lady who drank a liter of soy sauce (spoiler alert DON’T DO THIS! very bad for you, like brain damage/death bad ok?). I watched some but had to start skipping when the talking head kept repeating the same info over and over. Who are you George RR Martin? Get a dogdamn editor.

OTOH I wish the Primitive Technology channel would barf up a new wordless-middle-of-the-tropics video that I can watch every day. At that pace, he’d be building warp capable spacecraft in a year or two (starting from the stone age and not having to procure your own food ahem).


That’s another good point. As polished as the graphic and visual elements are, a lot of these videos are badly produced from a structural and narrative viewpoint: shoddy content for a shoddy platform. Then there are the algorithm-generated ones like bizarre and creepy kids’ clickbait on YouTube.


Video, it turned out, was hard to make and hard to casually skim, but video viewership numbers are the very easiest to cook…

I agree with the overall thrust of this. I don’t think the popularization of internet video has been an obvious net positive.

I think the general public has a high tolerance for poorly made videos, and the barrier to entry for popular video making may be lower than it is for popular writing. Even an amateurish, low-effort video can convey a lot of characterization and emotion very efficiently, and a large fraction of any given audience values that, accepts it as a substitute for edification. A writer needs a lot of practice and effort to produce similar results, and even when he succeeds, a fair chunk of the public just doesn’t like to read.

My point isn’t to mount some kind of “defense of video,” I’m quite annoyed that so much information is being presented in this search-resistant, non-indexable, slow-to-absorb format. My point is that video’s popularity is ultimately down to primal forces - real human tendencies, needs, and weaknesses - and is not just a conspiracy from our stone-hearted capitalist masters.

This blog post is only tangentially about the ways people interact with internet video, but I think it’s insightful, I think it highlights some overlooked truths.


Ewwww, “cum roach”.

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A picture is worth a thousand words!

If you’re going to make a video, the value of the video needs to meet or exceed 1000words/frame of value. Otherwise stick with words, they’re much cheaper.


Came here to say this. Jesus Christ I hope I never end up at that motel.

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This. I hate the way video has replaced text for simple quick demonstrations. If you want to show something then show it quickly in the first 30 seconds of the video, repeat it a couple times, and end. It’s absolutely annoying to have to sift through ten minutes of whatever the hell video just to catch something that literally can be conveyed in one single written sentence. The “personality driven” platforms makes this much worse too because almost everyone has a couple minutes of pointless drivel about their brand/identity and a couple minutes of begging for subscriptions. Or if it’s on IG then they have 25 cuts of them making cute faces and 1 single 5-10 second cut of vague but actual content jammed somewhere in the middle. Hate hate hate.


There’s a place for video. It’s good for teaching physical skills; it works well as light stimulation while eating alone; it generally requires multiple people to do it to any kind of standard, which means it tends to fill a different cultural niche to the written word, and avoids some of the dark corners there.

Video also works better as propaganda, since it discourages critical consumption. And it demands more investment at every level, making authors far more beholden to distributors.

The reason I have so little sympthy for facebook’s victims is that if they couldn’t even see those considerations – if they think one byte of content is the same as another – then their demise is probably no great loss to culture.


Ewww, you “came here” ?

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