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The Facebook App, Great Dilemma for Digital Newspapers

The Golden Rules of the Internet

The Facebook app has come to change the rules of the game. But before we analyse how it has done so, let’s list three golden rules that are key on the internet. The first, basic rule, is that the entire network is built on links. Secondly, publishers have their own rule: content has to reach as many readers as possible. And a third basic rule is that advertisers are where the users are on the Internet.

If these three golden rules are taken into account, it is easier to understand why publishers are at a crossroads right now because of Facebook. At this point in the film, the online newspapers are not very clear about whether FB is their friend or their great enemy.

The Facebook App, Great Dilemma for Digital Newspapers
The Facebook App, Great Dilemma for Digital Newspapers

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has become the main source of traffic for many of the newspapers: Facebook is a rich universe of links. This is fantastic from the point of view of bringing more readers to the contents of the publishers. Not only from the point of view of editorial success but also from the economic point of view: the more readers, the better business case for selling advertising. So far so good.

Facebook becomes the big dilemma

But what happens when Facebook starts to grow and decides to change the rules of the game? Apparently, the social network has decided to host content on its own servers instead of including links that redirect users to other sites .

This means that publishers have two options . The first choice would be to share the advertising revenue with Facebook and continue to bring readers to their content in exchange for losing control of their users’ data, as well as leaving the look&feel of their articles in the hands of the network. Or, they could opt for the second option: to move away from FB and work autonomously with their own resources with the aim of maintaining control of all their users’ data and the look & feel of the contents and staying in an integral way with all the advertising income generated by their own commercial action, assuming the risk of losing a vital source of traffic.

The problem is that the chances of a reader getting to a digital newspaper article through Facebook are quite high. And this generates a lot of fear in the media sector : the network can make them golden or it can make their current traffic levels miserable.

Who benefits from Facebook hosting content on its servers

If Facebook really starts applying this new policy it is because it is good for your business. Increasingly, it is striving for users to invest more time within their own universe. That’s why he’s creating a kind of internal internet that runs parallel to the network with the acquisition of services like Instagram and Whatsapp. So he can control everything. The more users are on the network and the longer they stay, the more advertisers will want to be there. And that means more revenue.

On the other hand, considering that the internet world is increasingly migrating from desktops to mobiles, it is much better that all content is within the Facebook universe. If the app includes links that redirect the user to other mobile websites, even if they are very well optimized, the truth is that the app usually offers a much better user experience. In addition, it is quite likely that the site includes advertising or that it can give some fault that irritates the user. Therefore, for a better user experience, the truth is that all publishers want to bring their readers to their app.

And in this sense Facebook proposes to use their own because it is already in place, because it already has hundreds of millions of users that they can reach with their own content and because they can continue to make money. Especially publishers like Vice or Buzzfeed, who are very focused on selling brands their ability to reach a certain audience . And to advertisers, he proposes to invest where the largest audience is. Even video creators are happy with this idea because the more apps they embed their content for them the better.

But for the more conventional publishers, Facebook represents a real threat because their audience is moving towards a land where they have no control. With the proposal of the social network, these Publishers lose the possibilities of links, lose control of their readers and are forced to share income because advertisers are moving towards the social network. So goodbye to the three basic rules of the game.

What do you think will really happen? Will traditional publishers find a way to get ahead? Do you think that the recent reform of the Spanish Intellectual Property Law, which makes it compulsory to pay a fee to AEDE media whose links are shared in the digital world, will affect all this?

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