Maybe Facebook doesn’t love us after all. So, what now?

Maybe Facebook doesn’t love us after all. So, what now? That could be the conclusion after Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress, but coincidence or not, it was the name of today’s panel discussion about the future relation between Facebook and media, at the third day of the International Journalism Festival, in Perugia.
After Zuckerberg’s social network changed its algorithm, harming media in terms of reach (and therefore, in terms of advertising and money), some publishers have abandoned Facebook, while others are looking for a new kind of relationship to keep somehow that source of revenues (which, nevertheless, isn’t the biggest one).
Not everything is bad with Facebook. At least, that was the agreement between Mario Calabresi, editor at La Repubblica, Vivian Schiller, board member at Scott Trust, Raju Narisetti, Gimodo Media Group CEO, whose debate was moderated by Aron Pilhofer, Journalism Innovation professor at Temple University.
“As a newspaper, it helped us with live streaming, for example, during 2016 earthquake,” Mr. Calabrasi said. He also put into consideration the fact that for local media, Facebook is something necessary, so the current situation is affecting them much more than it is doing to big media.
In that sense, for Ms. Schiller, Facebook must be treated as a business partner, not as something good or bad itself that inspires a love or hate relationship with media. “It’s good for reach, bad for engagement,” she stated clearly.
“We should take from Facebook as much money as we can, keeping identity and transparency. Is a matter of paying attention to what Facebook offers to apply practical solutions,” Mr. Norisetti affirmed. “We must look for alternatives: Flipboard, Google, Apple News…, but not becoming obsessed.”
Now that Facebook has a clear position about what they want for their users to receive what their friends post instead of media content, publishers can’t do more (or less) than develop a new strategy for a new situation.

José Manuel Cuevas