Posts tagged with "Buzzfeed"

BuzzFeed will pay creators of viral content up to $10,000 per post

June 16, 2021

BuzzFeed, the Internet kingpin of viral quizzes and meme-stuffed listicles, is testing a new way to gamify its content production, Fast Company reports.

The website, founded in 2006, earned Internet fame for its trending entertainment and celebrity news, clicky headlines, and library of unscientific quizzes promising to reveal such truths as your Harry Potter doppelgänger predicted from your favorite dessert foods, or whether or not you would be invited to the Met Gala based on an outfit crafted from the Asos clothing catalog.

To build its empire of content, BuzzFeed has long relied on an army of fan contributors—who create essays, lists, and quizzes free of charge via the BuzzFeed Community portal. In the past, it has doled out virtual “trophies” and “Internet points” to top content creators.

But now, for the first time, it’s offering  to pay these community members. Last week, it introduced a new programdubbed the BuzzFeed Summer Writers’ Challengethat offers payments of up to $10,000 per post for top creators, Fast Company reveals.

Users who publish posts that achieve a minimum number of page views between June 15 and August 15 will be compensated on a tiered scale, with payouts starting at $150 for stories with 150,000 views, and rising to $10,000 for stories that hit 4 million views.

Outsourcing content creation to the public is a business strategy that has been leveraged effectively by a number of publications in the past, including Forbes Media, which began paying all contributors in February 2018. That amount was whittled down a bit amid the coronavirus pandemic last year, with the current rate standing at $250 for those who author at least five posts per month as well as a half-cent bonus for every new reader a post generates.

BuzzFeed may be on to something similar: The company’s executive director of growth and trends, Peggy Wangtold AdWeek, “If we see positive effects from the challenge, it’s certainly likely that we could make the business case for extending this initiative, or bringing it back in other new forms.”

While the publication originated with a focus on viral content, in recent years it has invested in growing its investigative journalism unit and reporting hard-hitting news features. It won its first Pulitzer prize in 2021 for a series on Uyghur internment in China.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Twitter acquires Scroll, an ad-free news reader

May 5, 2021

Twitter  has announced the acquisition of Scroll, an ad-free news product—and word is that the social media giant expects to pull the service into a new subscription offering being planned, Ad Age reports.

To date, the app, which launched in January 2020, has offered subscribers the opportunity to get ad-free access to hundreds of websites, for $5 per month.

Scroll works with a handful of publishers—among them, Vox Media, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, The Atlantic, and USA Today—and offers stories from those publishers to paying customers. It does not block ads; rather, it works with its expanding group of publishers to take the ads down in exchange for a slice of the subscription fee.

Scroll keeps 30% of the subscription fee and distributes the other 70% to the participating sites, based on which articles users view.

Scroll will temporarily halt new subscribers while its 13-person team joins the social media company, Twitter said on May 4 in a blog post. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. Scroll, which has offices in New York City and Portland, is backed by investors including Union Square Ventures.

Twitter has spoken publicly about its interest in selling a subscription product, and is considering a number of options. The San Francisco-based company also recently acquired Revue, a newsletter startup, with plans to make money from subscriptions. Twitter envisions the two products working together, and says users may one day pay to read newsletters or stories from certain publishers directly on Twitter without any ads.

“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable,” wrote Scroll CEO Tony Haile in a blog post. “If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before. Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.”

The social media company is looking for ways to expand business outside of digital advertising, which makes up the bulk of revenue. Advertising can be inconsistent and Twitter said last week that ad sales got off to a slow start in 2021 thanks in part to civil unrest in the United States and delayed public events, like Hollywood’s Academy Awards presentation. A subscription business would offer a more steady and predictable revenue stream. Scroll is Twitter’s sixth deal in the past six months.

Research contact: @adage

For young ‘influencers,’ Instagram is exploring a version of the app for kids under 13

March 22, 2021

In a move certain to generate controversy, Instagram is developing a version of its popular photo-sharing app for users 13 and under, MarketWatch reports.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the project on March 18, and it was later confirmed by an Instagram executive.

To date, Instagram’s policy has not allowed users under 13 on the site. Instagram is owned by Facebook, which also has a minimum age of 13. However, despite these restrictions, a number of children under 13 already have surreptitious accounts on both sites.

Citing postings from an internal message board at Instagram, BuzzFeed reported the new app would be developed by Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and Pavni Diwanji, a Facebook executive who previously oversaw children-focused products, including YouTube Kids, while working at Alphabet’s Google.

In a tweet Thursday, posted after the BuzzFeed report was published, Mosseri said: “Kids are increasingly asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. A version of Instagram where parents have control, like we did w/ Messenger Kids, is something we’re exploring. We’ll share more down the road.”

Messenger Kids is a Facebook app on which parents can control whom their choose to communicate with. However, a bug was found in 2019 that allowed kids to communicate with not just their friends, but with friends of friends—including adults—whom their own parents had not vetted.

In a message-board post, Instagram said its kids version would emphasize privacy and safety, according to the BuzzFeed report.

Separately, MarketWatch notes, on Wednesday. March 17, Instagram announced new features and resources for its teen users and their parents, in an effort to protect users from abuse, bullying, and predators.

“Protecting young people on Instagram is important to us,” the company said in a blog post. “We want parents to have the information to help their teens have a safe and positive experience on Instagram.”

If launched, the app could face legal issues regarding children’s privacy and targeted advertising—and would likely spark heavy criticism from youth advocates on issues including harassment, sexting and mental health.

One Twitter user replied to Mosseri’s tweet: “We don’t just give stuff to kids because they WANT it. We don’t give kids dangerous tools to play with when grownups haven’t figured out how to make those tools safe.”

Research contact: @MarketWatch

BuzzFeed cuts loose 47 on HuffPost team

March 11, 2021

Just three weeks after finalizing a deal to buy HuffPost, Jonah Peretti’s BuzzFeed is taking a buzzsaw to the left-leaning news and culture site, the New York Post reports.

HuffPost reported that Peretti—who is chief executive, now that BuzzFeed has sealed the deal to buy the site co-founded  by Arianna Huffington is 2005— told staffers that the layoffs decision was made to “fast-track the path to profitability” for the money-losing website. The site’s losses totaled around $20 million in 2020, he said.

BuzzFeed on Tuesday said it made a series of cuts in HuffPost that will result in 47 U.S. jobs lost, including Executive Editor Hillary Frey and Executive Editor International Louise Roug.

The Canadian version of the website also will be shuttered.

The HuffPost union, organized as part of the Writers Guild of America-East, blasted the layoffs on Tuesday, March 9.

“Today, we learned that 33 of our colleagues—nearly 30% of our unit—will be laid off. We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” said the union. “This is also happening less than a month after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. We never got a fair shot to prove our worth.”

Former HuffPost owner Verizon recognized the union in 2016 and agreed to a new three-year contract in 2019, which remains in effect and will result in severance for the laid-off staffers, the union said.

BuzzFeed agreed in November to buy the site founded by Aianna Huffington, Peretti, Andrew Breitbart, and venture capitalist Kenneth Lerer.

Terms of the all-stock transaction between Verizon and BuzzFeed were not revealed, but Verizon maintained a minority stake in the site and has also pledged an investment into BuzzFeed as part of the deal.

Peretti will be CEO of the combined operations—but says he will run them as “separate distinct news organizations.”

“We want to ensure the homepage remains a top destination on the internet,” Peretti reportedly told staffers. “We also want to maintain high traffic, preserve your most powerful journalism, lean more deeply into politics and breaking news, and build a stronger business for affiliate revenue and shopping content.”

BuzzFeed made deep staff cuts at the start of the pandemic, but he said it had returned to profitability.

According to the Post, Mark Schoofs, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, is seeking a new-editor-in chief at HuffPost, who will report to him. The post has been vacant for a year since Lydia Polgreen jumped to Spotify’s podcasting unit Gimlet Media in March 2020. Frey had been overseeing it since then.

Research contact: @nypost

Big deal: BuzzFeed acquires HuffPost

November 23, 2020

Digital culture and news company BuzzFeed has agreed to buy HuffPost from Verizon Media, the companies announced on November 19—a move that combines two of the internet’s largest consumer media properties, NBC News reports.

Verizon also will make an investment to become a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed—and the deal will see the two companies partner on shopping experiences for consumers, content syndication across each other’s platforms, and ad products.

BuzzFeed paid for HuffPost with company shares, the value of which was not disclosed. Verizon Media acquired HuffPost when it bought AOL for a reported $4.4 billion in 2015. NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, is an investor in BuzzFeed.

The merged company will be run by Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and CEO, who is also one of the co-founders of the original HuffPost site, originally called The Huffington Post. An editor-in-chief will be brought on to head HuffPost, which will be run as its own brand and separate site.

I still vividly remember the night we launched HuffPost and the excitement of growing it into a major news outlet during those early years,” Peretti said in an internal email to BuzzFeed staff, obtained by NBC News. “But we aren’t buying HuffPost because of its illustrious past or my personal connection; we pursued this opportunity because we are excited about the future of HuffPost and all the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come.”

On Thursday, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington tweeted that she was “so happy” to see the company joining forces with BuzzFeed 15 years after Peretti helped found it. “Such exciting news and looking forward to all that’s to come,” she said.

The deal combines two of the most successful digital media companies from different eras. HuffPost emerged as one of the first successful digital media outlets of the 2000s. BuzzFeed, launched in 2006, became the dominant digital media operation years later, from a surge of readers who came primarily through social media platforms, especially Facebook.

While each was able to amass a sizable audience and attract millions of dollars in private investment, both struggled to turn a profit. Facebook and Google have remained the primary destination for digital advertising spending, with most digital media websites facing similar challenges as BuzzFeed and HuffPost.

Peretti said that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital and benefited digital-first companies and that BuzzFeed hopes this deal will enable it to “be the formidable leader in our space.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

Why Facebook may know when you last had sex

September 11, 2019

Did you think that you and your partner or spouse were the only ones who knew (maybe, aside from your next-door neighbors) when you two last had sex? Wrong. Facebook may know, too, according to a September 9 report in The New York Times. And they also may know when it’s “that time of the month.”

How is that possible?

According to the UK-based privacy watchdog, Privacy International, at least two menstruation- and ovulation-tracking apps, Maya and MIA Fem, have shared intimate details of users’ sexual health with Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, as well as other entities.

In some cases, the data shared with external social media (which are self-recorded by users in the app) included:

  • When a user last had sex,
  • The type of contraception used,
  • Her mood, and
  • Whether she was ovulating.

The Times notes, “The findings raise questions about the security of our most private information in an age where employers, insurers, and advertisers can use data to discriminate or target certain categories of people.”

The information was shared with the social media giant via the Facebook Software Development Kit, a product that allows developers to create apps for specific operating systems, track analytics, and monetize their apps through Facebook’s advertising network. Privacy International found that Maya and MIA began sharing data with Facebook as soon as a user installed the app on her phone and opened it, even before a privacy policy was signed.

Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne told the new outlet that advertisers did not have access to the sensitive health information shared by these apps. In a statement, he said Facebook’s ad system “does not leverage information gleaned from people’s activity across other apps or websites” when advertisers choose target users by interestBuzzFeed first reported the news.

However, the fact is that today, many apps still are not subject to the same rules as most health data.

Some of the apps even have come under scrutiny as powerful monitoring tools for employers and health insurers, which have aggressively pushed to gather more data about their workers’ lives than ever before under the banner of corporate wellness. Plus, it appears the data could be shared more broadly than many users recognize, as flagged by the Privacy International study.

Several period- and pregnancy-tracking apps have been called out for sharing health data with women’s employers and insurance companies, as well as for security flaws that reveal intimate information, the Times reports.

Deborah C. Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights, based in Austin, Texas,  told the Times that people expect their health data to be protected by the same laws that protect their health information in a doctors office, but that many apps aren’t subject to the same rules.

“Most people would want to make their own decisions about what’s known about their sex life, about whether it’s shared or not,” said Peel. “Right now we have no ability to do that.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Over and out: Rod Rosenstein leaves the DoJ

May 13, 2019

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—whose double-dealing on behalf of the Trump administration only was revealed during his final weeks at the Department of Justice—left the agency on his own terms on Friday, May 10, BuzzFeed reported.

Rosenstein oversaw Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election—and was assumed by the public to be a staunch defender of the probe, which had the president and his staff and family in its sights.

However, recently the public learned that the deputy AG was more focused on protecting his job security. Indeed, he had promised the president,“I can land the plane [safely],” in reference to the investigation. What’s more, word has come out that Rosenstein avidly followed up on White House leaks on behalf of Trump.

When Rosenstein was confirmed in April 2017, then–attorney general Jeff Sessions had already recused himself from the Russia investigation, putting Rosenstein in charge of the most politically fraught criminal investigation in decades from day one.

Trump never acted on what is by now a documented urge to get rid of the official overseeing Mueller’s work. Instead of being forced out as Sessions was after the midterm election in November, Rosenstein on May 9 got what Sessions did not, BuzzFeed reported: a glowing farewell ceremony in the Justice Department’s Great Hall, complete with a tribute video.

Rosenstein sat on the stage, flanked by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Bill Barr, as speakers praised his dedication to the department over three decades and his service over the past two years, the news outlet said.

Rosenstein didn’t directly reference the Mueller investigation in his remarks—Congress is in turmoil dealing with the aftermath of the conclusion of Mueller’s work, and Rosenstein could be called to testify—but he spoke generally about how the DOJ “stands apart from politics.”

“Government officials sometimes face pressure to compromise principles, perhaps even to trade virtue for the appearance of virtue. But we should exercise caution when uncomfortable circumstances tempt us to disregard timeless principles. It is most important to follow the rules when the stakes are high,” he said.

Rosenstein’s replacement, Department of Transportation official Jeffrey Rosen, hasn’t been confirmed yet—but is expected to be in place soon; the Senate Judiciary Committee voted this week along party lines to advance his nomination, and he isn’t expected to face any problems in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Research contact: @BuzzFeed

Federal judge ponders review of Mueller report redactions

April 19, 2019

The federal judge who reviews documents for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) dissemination is asking to scrutinize the redacted version of the Mueller Report, in order to ensure that all deletions have been made for legal purposes—and not with the intent of withholding information from the Congress or the American public.

As reported by The Daily Beast, Federal District Judge Reggie Walton expressed interest in reviewing the Mueller report redactions in order to expedite Freedom of Information Act requests for the highly anticipated report.

“Obviously there is a real concern as to whether there is full transparency,” Walton said at a Tuesday court hearing regarding a request from BuzzFeed to have the Justice Department release the report quickly under FOIA. “The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the American public to be concerned.”

If Walton is successful, the review would be a win for those suing for the report’s release because it would bring in a judge to look at the reasoning over redactions. It is unclear whether the version of the report made public Thursday will be identical to what the department releases under FOIA.

“That’s something we’ll have to work through and something I’ll have to think about,” Walton said.

Indeed, according to Politico, Justice Department attorney Courtney Enlow declined to say whether the version of the report made public Thursday will be identical to what the department releases under FOIA. Nor could she say whether she’d be prepared to commit to that during another hearing set for May 2 on the BuzzFeed case and a related suit.

“I can’t give you a timeline,” Enlow said.

However, the judge said Tuesday that he plans to “fast track” the issue of the report and what information in it must be disclosed, then deal with other records from Mueller’s probe.

Walton said he hopes any disputes will be limited because the Justice Department makes the bulk of the document public.

“I would hope that the government is as transparent as it can be,” the judge said.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Dems vow to ‘get to the bottom’ of allegations that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress

January 21, 2019

President Donald Trump directed his longtime former personal  attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter, BuzzFeed reported late on January 17.

The story, which invalidates Trump’s ongoing claim that he had no business deals with Russia—and apprehends him in a maneuver to mislead federal legislators—exposes the president to criminal culpability, like he has never been before.

Indeed, according to The Washington Post, Democrats in Congress vowed on January 18 to thoroughly investigate the new report—with Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,  vowing that his panel would “get to the bottom” of the allegations.

Early on Friday, Nadler tweeted, “We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-California), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released a formal statement, asserting, ““It is now alleged that the president … directed Michael Cohen to lie under oath to Congress about these matters in an effort to impede the investigation and to cover up his business dealings with Russia. These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice.

“Our committee,” said Schiff, “is already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters. As a counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude, and given that these alleged efforts were intended to interfere with our investigation, our Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”

In his first public comments on the report, Trump went on Twitter on Friday morning to quote a Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, as saying, “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….”

“Lying to reduce his jail time!” Trump added in his own words.

According to the BuzzFeed report, the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and what BuzzFeed described as “a cache of other documents.”

Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with the special counsel’s office, BuzzFeed reported.

In a statement, Lanny J. Davis, a legal communications adviser to Cohen, said that both he and Cohen are declining to respond to reporters’ questions “out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Research contact: jason.leopold@buzzfeed.com