The Facebook Serpent and the Content Farmer (or how Google & Facebook can rebuild our trust)
“Farmer! Farmer! You are so wise and you work so hard on your content … we have so little, but we can offer you one billion members!” said the snake.
“But snake, I’ve spoken to the App developers and they told me that once they engaged you, you bit them something awful …” replied the farmer.
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“Oh, yes … we made a bit of a mistake there. They were too spammy and they got too much traffic, so we needed to throttle them down, and paying for installs was the only way we could manage it — that won’t happen here!” replied the snake.
“But snake, I’ve spoken to the brands and celebrities who spent millions building their fan pages with Likes. They say it was great for years, until you bit them with your venom,” replied the content farmer.
“Ohhh … yeeessssssss, that was unfortunate. You must believe me, we are not going to do that again! We learned our lesson and have taken the feedback to heart. This time it will be different,” hissed the snake.
“And you say you have billions of members? You’ll send them to us?” queried the content farmer.
“Yessssss …. yessss ….. and we’ll even split the money and send people back to your sssssssite!” said the snake.
“OK, I’ll try it … but I’m watching you, snake!” admonished the content farmer.
And with that, the farmer picked up the snake and put him in his pocket. He walked back to the farmhouse and said to his mother, “mother, mother, our hungry days are over … potato soup and stale bread no more!”
“That sounds too good to be true,” said mother, concerned.
And with that the farmer reached into his pocket and pulled out the snake, who proceeded to bite him on the wrist. The farmer fell to the floor, writhing in pain, foam pouring out of his mouth, eyes rolling back in his head as he died slowly in pain.
Mother looked at the snake, who pleaded, “Dear mama, I’m sorry I bit the farmer but I have a deal for you …. “
And with that, mother reached over to the counter, picked up a meat cleaver, and cut off the snake’s head.
As she skinned the snake and tossed the juicy meat into her soup, she quipped, “Looks like we won’t be having potato soup for dinner tonight.”
It’s taken a decade, but content companies are now becoming independent, strong, and profitable entities. From Netflix, which pays content creators in advance for their work, to Buzzfeed, Vice, The Information, Re/code, and beyond, we’re seeing a class of independent and strong content-lead companies.
These companies do not need Facebook, Yahoo, Google, or Twitter — in fact, the opposite! It is now Facebook that is finally realizing, after many years of getting free content, that perhaps they should — GASP! — share money with content creators!
If Facebook wants your content there is a very simple demand you should make of the massively profitable and powerful company: money! In advance and guaranteed!
The same holds true of Google, which the FTC had dead to rights for manipulating their search results in favor of their homegrown services and AGAINST their own partners. When Google works against its own partners covertly, what would a reasonable person call it?
Fraud? Unethical? Wrong? Evil?
Google and Facebook have lost the trust of content creators, while companies like Amazon, Netflix, Apple, and Twitter have supported creators relentlessly.
It’s up to content creators to form a solid block that says, “Listen, Facebook and Google, we all know you’ve screwed over partners like us many times, so if you want to rebuild trust let’s start the relationship over, with you paying us for our content.”