As you’ve probably heard by now, Facebook entered into agreements with major news outlets to bring you, the web browsing public, Instant Articles.
By major news outlets, I mean The New York Times, National Geographic, The Atlantic , The BBC and The Guardian to name a few. By web browsing public, I mean the people Facebook is trying to turn into being an all-Facebook-all-the-time sort of public…which would include everyone.
Articles are delivered faster to Facebook because the articles are hosted by Facebook. Estimates place articles as loading 8 to 10 times faster through Instant Articles. This makes its news partners tied to Facebook to deliver their content to the social media site.
One third of Americans now get their news through it’s app. There’s also millions of people who think Facebook is the internet. And let’s not forget the rumblings of Facebook subsidizing the cost of getting online in foreign countries just so they can access Facebook. All of this puts pressure on news services that aren’t on Instant Articles to sign up with Facebook.
Instant Articles has echoes of the media consolidation of TV, radio and newspapers. That worked out well, didn’t it? (No. No it didn’t.)
Facebook says its going to allow those media companies to keep all their own ad revenues. If Facebook sells the ad, it’ll split the revenue 70/30. And it’ll totally work out, like how Darth Vader totally honored his deal with Lando in Empire. (No. No he didn’t.)
These are the same news outlets that will be the first to cry foul if any government attempts infringe on their freedom. However, they’re willing to make a deal with a business whose entire success depends on mining the personal information of their readers and viewers.
By turning over their futures and fortunes to Facebook, news outlets around the world are making a dangerous bet that Zuckerberg and company have their best interest at heart, the public’s best interest at heart and that Facebook is their salvation, not their doom.
The past has shown us time and time again that media monopolies and oligarchies don’t serve the public and in the end, they crush the independent voices that are vital for a free press and democracy. The medium may be the message, but the past is repeat itself in this case.