I have seen the future and it Zux! Here’s a useful Vox piece on why we shouldn’t panic about Facebook’s new “Instant Articles” feature. The piece is useful because it is so unconvincing. I wasn’t panicked before. Basically the Vox argument is:
a) Facebook dominates the web. (There’s a stunning chart demonstrating why the profitablity of practically every web site now hinges on Facebook.)
b) Facebook’s mysterious algorithm gives them the power to favor or disfavor specific publications or articles;
c) “Instant articles” will give them even more power to favor or disfavor specific publications, as more and more people read the articles that Facebook agrees to host on its servers;
d) So, hey, don’t worry!
P.S.: Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee argues that big news outfits like the New York Times can stand up to Facebook the way ESPN can stand up to cable operators. Even if that’s true, you have to be a big outfit like the NYT or ESPN to have that kind of leverage, no? What does that mean for small, unaffiliated content providers (e.g., me, or Talking Points Memo) who don’t have protection from a big outfit? The pressure for concentration will only increase. The Web was supposed to be an Army of Davids.
P.P.S.: Lee says “There’s No Reason for Facebook to Censor Instant Articles.” Really? You don’t think they’d ever tweak their secret algorithm to, say, disfavor articles calling for less immigration, or an end to Mark Zuckerberg’s precious H-1B visa program? I’m not so sure. (I didn’t think Tucker Carlson had a reason to censor my pieces to avoid offending Fox, but reality is cruder than the textbook models would have it.)
I predict a lot of Zucking up. At Vox it may already have started.