More Thoughts on the Facebook Borg

May 13, 2015 10:29 a.m.

I’m a heavy Facebook user in my personal life, with friends and family, as I’m sure many of you are too. It’s also a very key part of our distribution and reader recruitment strategy at TPM. I say that to be clear that we and I are deeply invested in the Facebook ecosystem. But one of things I find fascinating about Facebook’s efforts to assimilate much of the news publishing industry is the mix of genuine newness and benign unfamiliarity with the business and trade practices of journalism on the one hand combined with a realistically confident assumption whatever they don’t figure out at first doesn’t really matter all that much because they’re still Facebook and you have to do what we want you to do.

It’s slightly reminiscent of workflows and best practices of the Borg collective. The Borg drones almost always get taken out immediately on the first approach. But that’s fine. Because the Hive collects important new knowledge and keeps coming back with new drones until they get the job done.

I mentioned last night these conversations I had with media execs from the new Instant Articles partners about a year ago. As I wrote last night, when those media execs greeted the initial Facebook overtures with different permutations of ‘are you f-cking kidding?’ they responded with a “mix of genuine surprise and restrained indifference.”

But here’s another thing I just heard about. Under the same blanket of NDAs, Facebook apparently held parallel meetings maybe a bit more recently with journalists. And the pitch to them was, well … pretty amazing.

As described to me by a journalist at one of those meetings, the idea went like this: when you have a story to write, instead of writing it into your company’s CMS (content management system), which in essence means to their website, just post it into our new Facebook interface and then send your employer the link. What could go wrong?

Apparently the idea did not go over well with the folks in attendance. Which makes sense since that’s completely insane and basically a good way for any employed journalist to get fired. When asked how they were thinking this would work from a right ownership point of view, it seemed like the emissaries from Facebookia didn’t have a clear answer.

This should be fun.

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