Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Facebook Flattening

Matt Klinman of Funny or Die, in an interview with Sarah Aswell of Splitsider on the effect of Facebook’s algorithmic timeline changes on independent media:

This writer John Herrman writes about this a lot — he used to write for The Awl, rest in peace — he talks about how Facebook flattens everything out and makes it the same. That’s how we have a Russian propaganda problem. An article from something like, I don’t know, Rebel Patriot News written by a Macedonian teen or something looks exactly the same as a New York Times article. It’s the same for comedy websites. There’s a reason that Mad magazine looks different from Vanity Fair. They need to convey a different aesthetic and a different tone for their content to really pop. Facebook is the great de-contextualizer. There’s no more feeling of jumping into a whole new world on the internet anymore — everything looks exactly the same.

The premise of this piece is that “Facebook is killing comedy” — Funny or Die had to lay off a bunch of writers because of reduced traffic from Facebook. I’ve written about that before because, while I think websites like Funny or Die should be less dependent on traffic from any one source, but Facebook is not entirely blameless either.

This pullquote, though, is one of the best encapsulations I’ve seen of the effects of Facebook’s ecosystem, particularly its ability to erase context.