(CorpComm Blog) -- When Facebook deleted the famous “Napalm girl” photograph because it violated policy on showing nude children, the Norwegian newspaper editor who posted it wagged a rather sanctimonious finger at CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"The media have a responsibility to consider publication [of stories] in every single case," wrote Espen Egil Hansen, editor at Norway’s largest newspaper, in an open letter to Mr. Zuckerberg. "This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California."
The historically iconic photograph was allowed after a loud show of protest and support from Facebook members around the world -- a response that underscores the collective power of social media communities to police themselves on standards. The outcome of this dispute was as it should be.
However. In reporting the reversed deletion, the world's news media -- some behaving like this was another Scopes trial -- failed to emphasize that the Norwegian newspaper was using Facebook first and foremost as a no-cost marketing tool. “You are offering us a great channel for distributing our content,” Hansen wrote. “We want to reach out with our journalism.” (So do other business concerns besides newspapers.)
But then Mr. Hansen told “dear Mark” that “Even though I am editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper… you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility.”
Post me confused.
I read through Facebook’s entire investor prospectus. And nowhere is there anything about the company being beholden to anyone’s “exercising of editorial responsibility.”
Especially to a commercial newspaper using Facebook for free publicity and promotion.
Over time, the clunky synergy between social and news media will either achieve mutually-beneficial equilibrium or reshape itself completely, like home pages and other content aggregation movements of the internet age. Mr. Zuckerberg sees this as making Facebook the "perfect personalized newspaper for everyone in the world."
Even if that's where things are headed, we should be cautious about holding Facebook and other corporate-owned social media services accountable for not behaving like the news journalism companies they aren’t.
Delivering the milk doesn’t make you a cow.
(CorpCommBlog.com) -- National Public Radio has joined the growing number of online media outlets that no longer show public comments at the bottom of news stories.
In case you’re new to this WWW thing: Many comment sections have been commandeered by small groups of mostly anonymous "trolls" who shout down and ridicule anyone with opposing opinions, often with incredibly violent imagery and hate speech. And don't get us started about punctuation.
Many news sites held on – and still do -- to comment sections in part because they create space to sell ads, without the nuisance of paying journalists for content. These days, however, social media platforms offer more civil, cost-efficient ways to facilitate public dialogue around sponsors’ interests. The result is that media sites are dropping comment sections as a well-intentioned but failed, high-maintenance vestige of a simpler Internet time.
But not all. One ticked-off supporter of comment sections is Breitbart News, the hyper-populist, anti-lefty media site whose chairman is now running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Hostile partisan vitriol is what outlets like Breitbart and the anti-righty Daily Kos are selling, and they have plenty of followers (including trolls). But these aren’t products that attract mainstream advertisers and promotions. It’s commerce, not comments, that keep most online media in business.
Time Magazine underscores the problem with its cover story, “How Trolls are ruining the Internet.” Some 80% of the 93-year-old magazine's own writers said they don't cover certain topics because they fear the online response. Sometimes the attackers will track down and harass a writer's spouse, parents, even children.
Despite America’s chaotically contradictory Internet culture, it would seem that the bulk of news comment sections are heading toward extinction as new ways to engage the virtual public square become more advanced. What the Internet mob does as a result is a whole other consideration.
Influence Chronicles Blog
Field notes on the forces and sources of public truth.
Influence Chronicles blog and executive e-letter are published by SilversJacobson, a corporate reputation and crisis management firm based in Denver and Washington, D.C. Call anytime at (720) 645-1164.
To submit ideas, articles or other material for future posts, please send with name and phone number to input(at)influencechronicles.com. And it's more likely that we'll consider submitted posts if they have something to do with what our blog is about. Just sayin'.