Facebook, you are a fine, successful company. A great idea well executed, well financed that ended up being a mecca for advertisers. I envy your cashflow and your ability to convince brands that they have no other option except to engage with you.
Can any brand afford not to advertise where people are talking about it? Would they take the risk to have a bad relationship with a platform that “manages” the data of 2 billion consumers? Not any consumer – theirs.
Would they risk not to invest tons of dollars on a media platform that can influence, segment and understand every single sensitive moment of their friends? What if competition is listening that their clients are vulnerable and unhappy with them?
You, my dear friend advertiser, has your hands tied. And I am very sorry for you.
But let’s get back to us, Facebook. We are not fine. It is time to face it: we can’t be friends. I know this conversation is so last season, and that we’ve been dealing with a passive-aggressive relationship for quite some time.
But let’s just be frank: as a publisher, my purpose in this crazy world is to provide professional journalism, that kind of information that puts citizens in power to decide the future of their communities.
It means that I have great people asking questions others usually don’t want to answer, searching and finding the facts governments and companies don’t want anyone to know about. This is what we do every single day for over a century.
Back in the old days, we would finance this business with advertising. As you know better, Google and you have all these ad dollars now. What can I say? Good for you, man.
This is why we can’t be real friends: my purpose is journalism. Yours is to connect people and sell them things. I need to be credible, to work hard on the search of good reliable information. You are agnostic about the good and the evil in this world. You don’t care if the information is good as far as the publisher pays to promote it.
You need people to stay locked in your platform spending as much time as possible. I need them to come to us, journalists, to trust us, and to see how valuable is the professional independent content we make for them every day. We try to speak for all groups, and to reflect the values of the free democratic countries we live in.
You say news is not important in Facebook because your goal is to connect people through their personal stories. Fair enough! Facebook is not a place for good journalism. I understand that. You say people prefer cats, babies, perfect vacations. I like that too! But what people are really doing is consuming and sharing false and damaging misinformation.
So you sort of became the Bizarro world of news. Rembember him? I loved how journalism was pictured as the extension of Superman, fighting for the truth. Didn’t you love The Daily Planet? Probably Mark didn’t.
At the same time you say people don’t care about real news, you, as a perfect Samaritan, continue to invest in tools and deals to get me, news publisher, to feel loved. I know these spare dollars are nothing for a giant like you, and the PR ROI might be good compared to the liability your business model has.
I also know that you can spend billions to maintain the “good boy” image you desperately desire and you still need us to accomplish that. I recognize your efforts. Good job!
I recognize I have lost the battle for ad dollars. It’s fine. It is a free market. From now on, I need subscribers paying for the independent journalism they need in order to continue living in a democracy. This is my purpose and mission. And I´m sorry I can’t rely on you to be my partner in this endeavor.
As you say: Mark can always change his mind and his algorithm.
We will find our way to keep the good journalism alive and kicking.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Andiara Petterle is vice president of newspapers and digital media at Grupo RBS, a Brazilian media conglomerate.