Facebook “has completely destroyed independent digital comedy,” according to comedy website Funny or Die’s Matt Klinman, who was recently interviewed following mass layoffs at the company.
“There is simply no money in making comedy online anymore. Facebook has completely destroyed independent digital comedy and we need to fucking talk about it,” Klinman declared. “How I felt on the day of [layoffs] was that a ton of my friends — people who I respect a lot and who are great comedy writers — were just laid off, and at this point it was increasingly clear to me that this is not a management problem or a problem with the content that they are making. The problem was that the whole business model made no sense, as far as us just putting the stuff up on the internet and us being able to make a living on it. I was just angry and frustrated and sad that you can’t make cool shit for the internet anymore and make a living.”
“The whole story is basically that Facebook gets so much traffic that they started convincing publishers to post things on Facebook. For a long time, that was fine. People posted things on Facebook, then you would click those links and go to their websites. But then, gradually, Facebook started exerting more and more control of what was being seen, to the point that they, not our website, essentially became the main publishers of everyone’s content,” he continued. “Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.”
In the interview, Klinman continued to claim that Facebook “has created a centrally designed internet,” that’s a “lamer, shittier looking internet.”
“It’s just not as cool as an internet that is a big, chaotic space filled with tons of independently operating websites who are able to make a living because they make something cool that people want to see,” he proclaimed, adding, “Facebook is essentially running a payola scam where you have to pay them if you want your own fans to see your content.”
After being asked how comedy creators could fix the problem, Klinman replied, “First, linking out would be great. It would at least get people back to normal websites. Remember when your fingers just remembered different URLs, and you would go to The New York Times, and The Onion, and Funny or Die? Now it’s less so.”
“You type in Facebook or Twitter or Reddit and then you just sit there and passively take in this feed of what’s selected for you,” he explained, adding alternatives could include paying like cable, or organizing a campaign “where media companies band together and refuse to post on Facebook, essentially going on strike and withholding their labour until they’re compensated.”
You can read the full interview at Splitsider.