back to article Facebook exec: I HATE the INTERNET and I REALLY hate journalism

Modern internet journalism is terrible and full of trivial clickbait designed for Facebook, says Mike Hudack, director of product management at, um, Facebook. Of course, he didn't quite phrase it like that. Writing on (where else?) Facebook, Hudack takes aim at a mainstream media which he says has become a "hollowed out" husk …

COMMENTS

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  1. jzlondon

    He's got a point. The Register is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

    1. Psyx

      Follow this one weird tip to make pun-laden, slightly-smutty, alliterative strap-lines?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Yup. Content in this day and age is completely underwhelming and lackluster. The only thing worse than the journalism content is the social media content.

      I hate the fact that I have an awesome smartphone, an awesome tablet, an awesome ultrabook, and hardly any worthwhile content to use them with. And Hollywood movies and TV shows are getting more shit by the year for some strange reason. More and more technology, and yet their stories are more and more shit.

      Thank god for the Reg.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You get good original content when people play for it. Given the attitude towards copyright around here (yay Piracy is awesome!), are you really surprised that original content is disappearing?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Maybe now would be a good time for you to put a name to your own 'content', AC.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > You get good original content when people play for it.

          Correct. The three publications that I subscribe to in paper form also give me access to their content electronically.

          > Given the attitude towards copyright around here (yay Piracy is awesome!), are you really surprised that original content is disappearing?

          This however doesn't follow at all from the above. Personally, I fervently oppose control and monetisation of content by middlemen who had nothing of value and try to cling onto an obsolete model, as is the case with most of big-label music, not to mention scholarly publishing. Yet I am more than happy to pay £500+ per year on publication subscriptions, to buy music directly from independents, and to attend concerts.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          @AC - you are on the wrong site. I don't recall many instances of "yay piracy is awesome" on el Reg. You must be thinking of slashdot. Around here, it's mostly "pirated content and software is a massive risk for malware".

        4. Psyx

          "You get good original content when people play for it. Given the attitude towards copyright around here (yay Piracy is awesome!), are you really surprised that original content is disappearing?"

          Indeed. Shame nobody is willing to pay for good writers these days.

          Web-based journalism is rife with people willing to do it for free, usually to grind their own flavour of axe and writing about something they have deep passion (and hence bias) about. That is not a good route to proper, objective journalism.

          As a result, standards are appalling. Why pay for quality when you can get a click-bait rant for free.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Gets no argument from me

    I did once (once!) find myself on Buzzfeed's website - not in a Google searchy sort of way, I just navigated there through ignorance (or was it cat-killing curiosity?). Yik! I felt the need to wash my hands, disinfect my computer and trash my monitor: as they must all have been contaminated by it's awfulness. A feeling I haven't had since I accidentally clicked on a Daily Mail link.

    However the question of "who is to blame" is harder to answer. In the first instance, a lot of blame must fall on the editorial staff and their willingness to commission and publish the stuff they do. But, looking deeper, they wouldn't be on that Road to Hell if there weren't people willing to read it, or at least get caught by the clickbait-counters that determine the advertising revenue that will accrue.

    One would hope that these things are merely an aberration of a still-experimental internet, and inexperienced users who haven't yet worked out what it is that they want from the web. Whether that will turn out to be the case, or if this is the sort of stuff that's here to stay and will grow (like Japanese Knotweed) is difficult to say. Luckily it is easily avoided and here at least: once bitten, twice shy.

    1. Charles Manning

      Critical thought is HARD WORK

      Interwebbers, even El Reg, publish clickbait. They just try harvest different channels.

      As with any indepth TV documentaries, real journalism is hard work for both the journalist and the audience. The audience only has one set of eyeballs that everyone is competing for.

      When the ratings (ie. the ad revenue) comes in, the editors setting the direction of the channel/web feed are driven by the numbers. In-depth documentaries on stuff people need to know get upstaged by kittens and stories some celeb's tits.

      End result, journalists who entered the profession with lofty goals of helping inform humanity soon get either kicked out or re-align themselves to the real world where they, and their articles, are judged purely on their ability to bring in an ad dollar.

      Sure, follow your dreams.... but if those dreams include eating and paying rent you need to be practical.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regurgitation

    Of course he's correct. Take the example of mainstream Java "news" websites. They typically take someone's blog post and redress it with their page style and nothing else; not adding their own content, and certainly not providing anything of any depth beyond the totally superficial.

    Best just go trawl the blogosphere if you hope for anything "interesting"

    1. Psyx

      Re: Regurgitation

      "Best just go trawl the blogosphere if you hope for anything "interesting""

      Blog-based journalism is not really the answer, though. Firstly it's more tirades and preaching that journalism.

      Secondly, it's so niche that we are drawn towards communities which we agree with. Which never then challenges our perspectives. Receiving a soapy hand-job from our chosen news source - which bolsters and lends authority to existing beliefs - is no way to improve our minds.

      Journalism needs to investigate, provoke thought and further study and challenge existing beliefs, not merely to serve as a soap box for belief structures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Regurgitation

        The point here is that there is a lack of journalism, so it's all well and good saying journalism needs to investigate ... but it isn't, hence the article. And my point that in the specific area of the Java technology world there is little to no original in depth articles around. And no, I'm not drawn to a "community" I agree with when I search for blogs ... I search for the technology area and blogs come up ... in the Java technology world people are typically interested in getting into a new technology, so there isn't really a concept of "community I agree with".

        PS I don't consider TheRegister in the "Java technology world" but more of general IT.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But who might this “somebody” be?

    crowdsourcing, is the way forward man, given the trends set by the trend-setters such as facebook and co.

  5. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    yes and no

    Craigslist had a lot more to do with the hollowing-out of American journalism than anything Facebook or Google could do. The advertising has gone away, and the advertising paid for the journalism. The twenty-somethings would no sooner take out a classified ad--for a roommate, to sell a used car, etc.--than they would sign up for a land line.

    Having said that, no, I suppose that Facebook isn't helping matters. (I don't use it, having once been waved off it by the offspring.)

  6. ItsNotMe

    "These are simply click-bait generators, devoid of depth or original reporting."

    Sort of like Farcebook itself...now isn't it.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "These are simply click-bait generators, devoid of depth or original reporting."

      Right?

      Irony. He haz it.

  7. User McUser

    News SPAM

    It's economics 101 - the price you pay for something is derived from the supply and demand curve (ideally.) Artificially altering or limiting one of these will disrupt the other values. If you set your price to zero, then demand becomes basically unlimited. So now you have unlimited demand, limited supply (your servers can only handle so much traffic at a time), and no income to pay for it. Imagine if McDonald's announced tomorrow that hamburgers are now free to anyone who asks for one - the lines would be out the door and they'd loose millions of dollars. So Facebook (and others) adopted the broadcast model - provide the service at no charge and instead collect revenue from your *real* customers; advertisers.

    But that model is inappropriate; it works for TV and radio because the costs to create and broadcast your content to 10 people is the same as, say, 100,000 people (in the same geographic area natch.) So the more people that tune in, the more money you make by being able to charge advertisers more for more eyeballs. But for Facebook et al., the cost to serve cat photos to 100,000 people is potentially (I have no idea what the real scalability values are) 10,000 times more than just 10 people. So the more people you add, the more money *per person* you have to extract in order to become/stay profitable. People will reject a site if it has too high an ad to content ratio, so an easy way to increase the number of ad views (and therefore revenue) each user generates is to get them to keep loading new pages. And since people seem to dislike the idea that knowledge is being kept from them - especially when the only perceived cost is the click of a mouse button - News SPAM is born. Another way to go is targeted advertising, which also arises from this misapplication of the broadcast model. Unlike News SPAM, targeted advertising requires real additional effort (read: costs) to implement so Click Bait flourishes.

    It would be very interesting to see a breakdown of the costs and revenues that each Facebook user represents. I don't think people would like being shown that information, but maybe I'm wrong?

    ->Click here to find out!! - PLUS THREE other THINGS that will SHOCK you!<-

  8. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
    Pint

    I know how he feels

    Present company excepted, of course.

  9. cracked
    Childcatcher

    Bread! Give us bread!

    What will we listen to, when there's no one making music,

    What will there be to read, when no one is writing words,

    What jobs will there be, when Amazon only employs robots,

    When will people realise, we cannot live, on just AdWords?

    ...

    Which pubs will remain open, when all meetings have gone virtual,

    Where will you get a pizza, when the ADSL goes down,

    Which restaurants will still open, when dating's online only,

    Who will come to save us, when YouTube goes self-aware?

    1. fandom

      Re: Bread! Give us bread!

      Don't worry there are enough books and songs to last you several lifetimes.

      And that's still true if you limit yourself to the good ones.

  10. Florida1920
    Pint

    Self-fulfilling prophecy?

    If the mainstream media picks up on this story, it could become the Mother of all Clickbaits.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the net progressing or regressing?....Finally me and Zuck's gimp agree on something.

    I started out using the net @ uni for a comp-sci degree in the early 90's. It held so much promise. Around the mid to late 90's it started to become over-commercialised, but it still had promise. However, now it just isn't fun anymore: The 'Target' hack, Heartbleed, the Adobe cloud fiasco, E-Snowden & NSA privacy revelations, Google ads on everything goal, and now this latest eBay / Paypal meltdown....

    I used to be the go-to guy for family friends for tech matters, but I can't be anymore. How can I assure them of anything when even the CEO of Symantec-Norton admits that their own AV / Malware / Phishing products are a sham! I can't even offer advice regarding financial hacking or data privacy, or government spying, because the attack vectors are firmly beyond me now...

    I have a home based business. I used to diligently roll out updates and patches and even made assumptions that made me sleep better at night. But who has the time anymore?! I now leave most of my office machines permanently unplugged and off-the-net (and use a USB sparingly by air only when necessary). For the machines that are still 'live', I dedicate one to design, another to financial / accounting, and anther to (risky) browsing, and isolate all onto different networks...

    All the while I'm thinking this isn't f*cking progress! In addition I no longer have an active financial presence online, because I don't feel the banks / retailers etc, are doing enough to protect consumers, much to the chagrin of many pollyannic customer service mugs.

    But I used to love the internet and I lament the fact there's so many sheeple using it, thereby fuelling the rise in hacks and scams... I cannot help but ask, why have an eBay / Paypal account when you're just a mark to a hacker with ultra-fast broadband in a small town in Romania you've never heard of?... Same goes for Google+, FB, Yahoo and MS mail...

    And when the net isn't about scamming, account hacking, data breaches and hype, its saturated by the latest celebrity vampire leveraging it for all its worth... Driven on by a fickle global-media praying at the altar of the new shinny Twitter, Facebook, Google: 'God'...

    So am I the only one retrenching from the net?

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    He's wrong... and shallow to boot

    He's wrong. There are plenty of outstanding news agencies and reporting websites out there, they just aren't very popular with people who do not want to hear contrary evidence to their fantasy world, which is pretty much most people.

    In fact, the list of agencies is long. From science to politics to technology to entertainment, they exist, but you will NEVER find them if your world view is too rigid nor recognize them when you do.

    As for the Internet itself, it's the best damn research tool ever invented for the average person. Too bad most people don't know this either.

    In other words, he's a putz. How do people this stupid get paid so much money?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Flat Phillip
      Alien

      WTF?

      Aliens took over your keyboard, right?

      What were you trying to say? I don't necessarily disagree or agree with what you said, i just, have no idea what you are on about.

  14. json

    Overflowing with irony here and then some...

    considering about a quarter of the 'feed' I see on my FB account are either ads or click baits!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh well...

    a. The bloke in question is making a personal comment about the quite sorry state of affairs in the mainstream, generalist "electronic journalism" arena. He's spot on about it, and why should it matter a bugger who he happens to work for? It's not like he own the company even.

    b. Facebook is in the business of "social networking" (whatever that is and whatever you think of it), so is Orlowski saying that it should be expected to fix online journalism because it profits from it and/or because one of its employees expressed his thoughts about the latter? Well, since ElReg has often covered the flying car industry and most often than not painted an unfavourable view of it, should I expect Orlowski to go out and get me my flying car now?

  16. saundby

    I'd pay for a premium account on FB if it included the ability to filter all images with overlaid text.

  17. SDDuude

    Unfortunately, virtually all of the media is devoid of unbiased content. What's on the Internet is hardly worst than what is passed on as journalism with the New York Times or anything from the BBC. Yeah, people will complain if their favorite media outlet is labeled biased but its only because they like that bias all while denying it exists.

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