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Facebook - Once Were Leaders...

Facebook, once a leader now a follower heading for doom if this is how they intend for the channel to grow.

Image from The Verve

My caption:

Mark Zuckerberg removing his Goggles briefly to view the landscape - IRL

Will New Zealand Be Able to Get Them To Pay?

This week's announcement by the NZ government that they were ready to go with the collective bargaining process whereby they would be attempting to secure funding from Meta and Google for the local news feeds into their channels in an urgent attempt to support our local media industry.

After Canada attempted something similar, Facebook made this statement

as reported in the Fast Compay's News in Jan 2024.

“As a company, we have to focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short-form video,” the company explained.

Ah? Excuse me - TikTok or what?

“The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80% last year . . . news makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.”

The company previously eliminated the News tab in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany in 2023.

SCOOP reported that "Google and Meta opposed the Bill, arguing its backers misunderstood the nature of the digital news market and the value of local news within it."

What's Happened to My Algorithm?

To be honest I don't even remember the so-called News tab to which they refer, I only remember scrolling through my feed and seeing regular headlines and updates from the media I followed globally. Following only one news channel does not work for me. I am not interested in the micro-politics and regional news from most countries and my algorithm seemed to be working well, giving me the major headlines with a balance of perspectives across The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, News24 and others, including our local click-bait fiends - The New Zealand Herald.

The lack of news feeds in NZ has been evident for a few weeks already and since then, Facebook couldn’t be more dull. Admittedly I have always been a fan of the channel as it presented to me a varied mix of news, comedy, cute animal videos and of course regular updates from family and friends across the globe.

Now it’s a constant stream of Randos reposting old news - like this Squid that washed up on a beach in 2022 - not 3 days ago Zeb Wilson!

But Why did Meta Change?

This move is a poorly veiled attempt to a) copy TikTok, and b) to completely side-step and avoid all the negativity and backlash Facebook has received about sharing fake news (2016 USA elections), Cambridge Analytica (2018) and accusations of inciting genocide in Burma (2018).

But removing reputable news channels doesn’t seem like a customer-centric response and I sincerely doubt the TikTokkers will come back to Facebook.

Where Can I Get My News Feed Now?

Threads, Meta's take on Twitter, aka X, seems to be their hopeful news-play, but the media and the audience don't seem to be jumping on board - certainly none in New Zealand, who are possibly too busy hoping Zuckerberg will agree to pay for their dire and dull news feeds - despite them stating very clearly that news is not their strategic play for the future. For some reason - possibly the aforementioned scandals - they also

linked Threads to Instagram - again, a play to retain and gain younger audiences but the Insta-types don't seem to care too much for the serious news out there.

All in all, it's a giant damp squib (or should I say squid!).

This week I found myself reloading “X” - much to my disgruntlement - supporting Meglomania-Musk. At least I am starting to feel connected to global news again.

The lesson for me is that companies and brands should, as far as possible stay true to their differentiation and competitive advantage. Adding new things is good - we know video is the go-to media type, so enhance what's working.

But don't forget your audience.

Down here in the Antipodes, where families and friends tend to travel, migrate from, or immigrate to; channels like Facebook remain an important connector for people and their families living apart across the globe.

Facebook's ability to serve both the actual news along with your friends' versions and takes on that news helped you keep in touch and connected to all aspects of their lives.

Understand your differences and change for the better by addressing the root cause of the problem. Reputable news channels should not be penalised.

Elisabeth Ric Hansen is the Director of Stok.Communications, an Integrated Marketing Agency specialising in scaling SMEs marketing activities through SaaS and AI integrations.


+64 28 435 2112

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