Facebook’s “pivot to video” push is a bust… and now, the subject of a lawsuit

Facebook is being subject to yet another round of criticism. Or in this case, a class-action lawsuit. News broke this week that a group of advertisers have filed a lawsuit against the social network.

Recently, Facebook has placed heavy emphasis on video as the “hottest thing”; they’ve particularly encouraged advertisers and content creators to create videos for their presence on the social network.

The lawsuit claims the social network knew it’d exaggerated its video viewing metrics as far back as 2015, overestimating how many people watched videos. Facebook did admit in a 2016 blog post that it’d made an error; apparently, videos viewed at least three seconds counted as a “view.” However, the lawsuit states the social network never bothered to fix their mistakes. And given how heavily Facebook pushed for a “pivot to video,” this affected a lot of media outlets’ decisions, ultimately for the worse.

Is it worth pursuing video (and Facebook’s changing whims)?

YouTube
Photo by StockSnap (Pixabay / CC0)

This would seem to show the down side of media outlets trying to adjust their business models just to keep up with Facebook’s latest changes. Video has some advantages, but not for everyone; among the reasons:

  • Not everyone’s telegenic or camera-friendly.
  • YouTube still dominates online video. This is probably one big reason Facebook’s emphasis on video didn’t take off.
  • For companies, pursuing video’s been expensive, and came at the expense of writers/editors.

That last one has also come up a lot this week. Various stories and anecdotes emerged about how writers got the shaft in the recent mass “pivot to video.” Media outlets had figured the “future” lied in people watching videos instead of reading, and since video production’s a lot more expensive than hiring writers and editors, one guess who didn’t fare as well in all this.

Despite the above comments, video can be worth it for online blogs/sites, but only if it’s an organic fit for one’s work, and meets one’s goals. Still, video producers are better off putting their videos on YouTube. Besides offering more versatile features, YouTube doesn’t throttle video visibility the way Facebook’s algorithms do.

Alternatives to Facebook (again)

Once again, this all just points out the downsides of Facebook’s heavy influence and emphasis on algorithms. While plenty of online creators still have Facebook pages, some creators are trying other options.

The Digital Reader is trying Facebook groups (one of the Zuckerberg-owned social network’s few strong points left). Meanwhile, comics writer Greg Pak has ditched Facebook altogether, in favor of Twitter, RSS, email newsletters, and even newcomer Mastodon. The Oatmeal, which already made a strip about Facebook’s dominance, seems to be emphasizing Twitter, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and email on its site these days; however, it still has a Facebook page.

Are you still using Facebook for your site? Did you ever “pivot” to video?

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