Rob Price, Business Insider:
Facebook has found a novel solution to the never-ending deluge of negative headlines and news articles criticizing the company: Simply paying a British newspaper to run laudatory stories about it.
Facebook has partnered with The Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet British newspaper, to run a series of features about the company, Business Insider has found — including stories that defend it on hot-button issues it has been criticised over like terrorist content, online safety, cyberbullying, fake accounts, and hate speech.
The series — called “Being human in the information age” — has published 26 stories over the last month, to run in print and online, and is produced by Telegraph Spark, the newspaper’s sponsored content unit.
As an example, this article — about how an app developer left a hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ records on an publicly-available Amazon server — looks exactly the same as this advertisement for Facebook’s account security practices. And there are twenty-five more where that ad came from, all of which look like puffy-but-legitimate news stories that sit alongside one Facebook scandal after another.
This is exactly the worry about sponsored posts and native advertising. It can be done well, but that’s very rare; it is often sneaky and labelled poorly. But what the Telegraph is enabling here is far worse. The paper is participating in and profiting from Facebook’s whitewashing campaign.