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Funny or Die's Matt Klinman: “Facebook has destroyed independent digital comedy” (splitsider.com)
143 points by petethomas 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments



I agree very much with the interviewee that Facebook is a cultural wasteland, that provides one of the most enervating experiences on the internet.

I think as a young person he doesn’t realize how it was a cultural anomaly that small time content producers could make money through independent production of mass media.

Historically, from the development of mass media as an actual business category, getting your content distributed at all was tightly controlled by corporate “gate keepers” and was frankly a far more limiting situation for content creators of all stripes.

I do find it remarkable that Facebook has figured out a way to obtain the vast majority of the add revenue for the content that streams through their platform.

There are some unique aspects to the current structure, compared to earlier media business structures, that come from the incredible scope these advertising driven platforms have built.

Ultimately, I do think it’s a “tragedy of the commons”situation, or at least a variation, where the market structure prevents optimal payments flowing to the creators, who are in fact appreciated by many. The only way around this would be some form of class organization by creators, a syndicate, Union, coop, cartel, something.

The problem is that such a structure will be worked around by the many hungry and talented people out there who will sacrifice far more than you can believe for the chance to practice their craft.


> ”I think as a young person he doesn’t realize how it was a cultural anomaly that small time content producers could make money through independent production of mass media. Historically, from the development of mass media as an actual business category...”

Perspective.

Take a step farther back, and look across a longer period of time, you’ll find that historically, there was no such thing as mass media. It’s the anomaly.

The norm through far more of human history has been ‘small time’ content producers making money through independent productions.

We have a recent blip where mass media has disrupted ten thousand years of indie artists and troupes. Ideally we figure out how to get back to art for art’s sake, instead of for ads.


I'm not saying the current system is perfect, but a lot of these "gate keepers" are performing useful functions. Particularly for things like books and movies a major publisher or distributor gives some level of quality assurance. They also handle a bunch of stuff that you wouldn't expect an author or independent filmmaker to be good at.


A good critic or festival programmer provides far more signal about quality than a publisher or distributor ever does.

Sometimes gatekeepers are providing specialized services that creators might not be good at or interested in.

In any event, Facebook manages to insert itself as a middle man while simultaneously lowering quality.


I meant that having a publisher or distributor provides a lower bound for quality, not that it indicates high quality. There's plenty of crap published by legitimate publishers and plenty of movies not worth watching. But the quality is even worse among the people who self-publish (talking about averages obviously, not outliers).

And for books critics typically only review books from established publishers. Films might be a bit better in terms of allowing unknown directors to be discovered because of independent film festivals, but the barrier to entry is obviously higher.

I agree about Facebook though.


> I think as a young person he doesn’t realize how it was a cultural anomaly that small time content producers could make money through independent production of mass media.

Yes, that's a really good point. And things seem to be heading back towards the status quo pretty quickly.


I always enjoy reading the opinions of people who aren’t in tech. It always reminds me how little the world really understands the devices and programs they run every single day and how much of a bubble I live in. At the point where he said there should be a law that recommendations need to be made by humans it’s like dude, there’re 2 billion people using this site, that ship has sailed, we’re at tragedy of the commons-level shit right now. I do agree with him for the most part though, I just can’t see a solution other than users not using Facebook anymore or somehow banding together and forcing the recommendation engine to show us higher quality content by only clicking on higher quality content which is a sadly far-fetched idea at this point. I can only hope that people start to limit themselves.


Facebook just persists on the inertia of the network effect its leveraging. The only thing that will ever stop them is actual updates to anti-trust laws to stay in step with the current state of the industry.

It’s bullshit that a single company should get to pick winners and losers in the economy. We get squeamish about allowing our (barely) democratically elected government do that so I don’t understand why proponents of free-markets think it’s fine to let an unaccountable corporate entity exert the same kind of influence.


>> We get squeamish about allowing our (barely) democratically elected government do that so I don’t understand why proponents of free-markets think it’s fine to let an unaccountable corporate entity exert the same kind of influence.

Only a handful of people get to call themselves President, Senator, or Congressperson. Fewer will ever be billionaires, but more can dream because there's no constitutional limit to quantity or term length. They aspire to create the next unaccountable corporate entity.


You might think you’ve made a very novel point that no free markets supporter has considered or answered before, but you’d be very wrong. Anyone with even cursory knowledge of political philosophy knows this.

First of all, the issue with government wielding power in a way that violates NAP is not that it’s a single entity but that it’s wielding power to violate NAP, e.g. violating negative rights, redistributing wealth etc.

Since a private entity like Facebook doesn’t do that, it’s not even comparable. And the reason it has so much power (but again it can’t violate your negative liberty like govts do despite that) is that people voluntarily choose to use it so much (even if not willingly). As long as they choose to do so, Facebook gets power and that’s how it should work.

I personally think that Facebook isn’t great and we should use less of it and be less reliant on it (which I follow), but I’m not going to support using government’s power to override other people’s choices. A social network with a monthly fee (if people are ok with supporting it voluntarily over a privacy nightmare like Facebook) should be worth a try.


> The only thing that will ever stop them is actual updates to anti-trust laws to stay in step with the current state of the industry.

It's silly to think that only government intervention could change the status quo. Who do you know under 40 who likes using Facebook? They are susceptible to competition from the market, like everyone else. Ask IBM and GE how quickly ubiquity can evaporate.


They’re big enough to buy out any actually threatening competitors. A duopoly or a small oligopoly aren’t much better.

As for IBM or GE, buddy it took almost an entire generation for their stranglehold to break down, and in fields with much lower barriers to entry than this.


> It’s bullshit that a single company should get to pick winners and losers in the economy. We get squeamish about allowing our (barely) democratically elected government do that so I don’t understand why proponents of free-markets think it’s fine to let an unaccountable corporate entity exert the same kind of influence.

Speaking as an economic conservative, our principles were not designed to handle companies like Facebook with such unholy amounts of influence over media and society.

I'm not saying that excuses the lack of action in terms of regulating them, I'm just attempting to explain why it's difficult to get there from here, so to speak.


> It always reminds me how little the world really understands the devices and programs they run every single day and how much of a bubble I live in.

I have a similar experience with tech people, too. I use a weird little 40% keyboard (Vortex Core) at work and when people try to use it while I'm not around, I get questions about the location of various keys.

Specifically, people tend to ask where the symbols are. I tell them the truth, "On the number keys where they always are." Turns out it's not as common as I thought for people who type a lot to actually know where certain keys are, independent of their physical location. I thought that the majority of heavy typists would know which symbol is on which number, certainly symbols they use a lot, but that turned out not to be the case.

Just as many are simply tripped up by the weirdness of it, of course. That's understandable. This keyboard is picky about the order in which you press some keys (for good reason, but a rambling explanation would be orthogonal to this comment), so that can certainly confuse people who have only ever used 60% and larger.

No judgement here, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a weirdo using a weirdo keyboard. I just found it surprising is all. And, admittedly, somewhat entertaining.


Why would that surprise you?

I'd never heard of your keyboard so I googled it. It's a regular keyboard with no number keys on it. Why would it be surprising that people would ask you where the numbers and their corresponding symbols were?

Looking at the photo I certainly can't see how you'd go about typing an exclamation point, for example, even though I know it's over the one.


> I use a weird little 40% keyboard (Vortex Core)

Total aside: I really wish someone would make a normal-size keyboard with all those extra modifier keys. I don't really care for hyper-compactness, I just want to be able to easily type more characters in a backward-compatible way.

> Turns out it's not as common as I thought for people who type a lot to actually know where certain keys are, independent of their physical location. I thought that the majority of heavy typists would know which symbol is on which number, certainly symbols they use a lot, but that turned out not to be the case.

Why? Typing is all muscle memory and there's practically zero utility to know the (arbitrary) mapping.


I really wish someone would make a normal-size keyboard with all those extra modifier keys.

Yes!

The closest I've been able to find is the Razer Anansi, though I'm still not completely satisfied with the layout and I don't like the way its keys feel (YMMV). There are some other gaming keyboards with thumb keys but the Anansi is the only one I remember having found with more than three.

It's so frustrating, they figured out that you get extra bandwidth by giving the thumbs more keys, but then they throw that extra bandwidth away by making the keyboard smaller.

Oh, right, there's also keyboardio. I've never tried it and it's expensive but it doesn't just have thumb keys, it also has palm keys. And there's ergodox though I didn't like it when I tried it. There are also some generic Japanese keyboards with a narrower space bar and extra bucky bits - I assume you'd have to fiddle with remapping keys for optimal use in English.


Just looked that up. What a beautiful little keyboard!


> At the point where he said there should be a law that recommendations need to be made by humans it’s like dude...

You’re taking him way too literally. “There oughta be a law” is a figure of speech.


Heh normally said by people who naively believe that all this regulation and unions are not required only to find that when they have problems there isn't a law against it.


He didn’t articulate it well but the issue is the lack of organic reach given to page posts these days. Facebook has decided that fan page owners should pay to access their own fans - which negates the entire point of having a page or fans in the first place.

The issue for Facebook is that as more and more publishers leave because they are getting no organic traffic, people will spend less time there. So this whole money grab may eventually backfire on them. If all publishers leave and only the social functions are left, is Facebook as attractive anymore?

This is of course anecdotal, but many of my friends have not posted on there in years, and the ones that have average a post or update maybe every few months. That’s hardly worth sticking around for unless other interesting things remain in the ecosystem. I’d say that while people are jumping ship, 2018-2019 might be the first time that it is at least within the realm of possibility that someone could start a viable Facebook competitor. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.


This is one of the reason why e-mail is still relevant in marketing: no gatekeepers asking you to pay for access to your audience.


Modulo that the email marketing companies (such as MailChimp) that most successfully navigate the harsh waters of spam folder avoidance with the major email providers, enough that you can mostly assume your audience receives the marketing emails, are themselves approaching something of a monopsony and are in the process of becoming gatekeepers asking you to pay for access to your audience.


You absolutely have a point, but the dynamics are different. Multiple such companies compete to be your e-mail sender. No one is competing with Facebook to receive money from companies who believed they could reach their audiences inside Facebook.


Sorry, didn't intend to derail here with whataboutism, was thinking about unrelated problems to the ones at hand in this article. There are too many hard problems to deal with right now, and we can't fight them all at once, presumably.

Anyway, you are right, walled gardens are always going to be harder to fix than the network dynamics of what should be a more open and decentralized system than is maybe presently the case in practice.


On the other hand, it could be that the social functions declined due to an overemphasis of news, companies, ... which people seem to feel increasingly unhappy about and might bounce back if they actually become visible on the site again. (Total speculation of course as well)


And of the remaining friends, some subtract value by the nature of their "engaged" content.


Right. As a lot of social functions among close friends have moved to Instagram, Snapchat, or just group chats in messaging apps, what's left on Facebook? Your racist uncle, and high school friends you never talk to anymore.


This whole debate seems to be missing the point. There has never been a world where independent content creators have been able to monetize what they do on a massive scale and collect most of the revenue.

At a large scale, the owners of the distribution eat most of the pie. That's true because of basic comparative advantage and the advantages of scale even though they are entirely dependent on the individual content creators to get anything at all from their distribution. If the content creator wants to collect most/all of the revenue, the pie is small.


No, he’s saying the internet upended the old funnel model by providing democratized global distribution to anyone, but now Facebook has not only largely reversed progress, they’ve done worse by profiteering on content they’ve assumed effectively zero cost, risk, or effort in distributing.

Furthermore, they’ve destabilized democratic societies and radicalized neighbor against neighbor (speaking locally & globally.) Again, all the while, profiting from their carelessness, suffering few, if any, meaningful consequences.


Sure, but that's fundamentally untrue. Facebook has gone to considerable effort and cost and taken great risk to build their network so that they can then monetize content that gets distributed on their platform.

I'm not a fan of Facebook btw, but just that the argument the guy is making fails on basic economics.


Well some of the early Hollywood stars set up united artists including Chaplin to get round this problem


The way I see it isn't Facebook that's killing comedy, it's the internet itself killing ways to monetize online comedy.

The guy considers memes to be the future of internet comedy, well there are millions of people making them for free. And that just makes it harder for someone to monetize comedy. Additionally, all this free content being consumed by peoples is eating in the market share of more serious (professional?) sites like Funny or Die and the Onion.


He's not saying memes are the future of comedy, he's complaining that people are making jokes for free:

> the whole point of [Pitch] is to pay people for jokes because I hated seeing people just giving work away for free

Perhaps people want to crack jokes for free, because it makes them feel good. Not everyone wants to monetize basic human interaction.

If anything is killing anything it's monetization uber alles.

So instead of people cracking jokes on internet forums or their local pub, he'd prefer it if they confined their material to his app instead, so he can financially benefit from it.

That's the thing about a lot of Facebook haters. They don't really hate Facebook, they hate that they're not Facebook.


  If anything is killing anything it's
  monetization uber alles.
I believe the traditional logic is:

1. X is good.

2. To achieve the best X, we should allow our best X people to dedicate their lives to it full time.

3. That means paying and equipping them, which needs revenue.

4. Therefore things that increase our revenue are good and things that decrease our revenue are bad.

where X is almost anything in the entertainment industry, and quite a few things outside it too.


Ain't it funny though when people are for of a free market when it works in their favor, but against it when it doesn't? I.e. when you undercut someone else's price, that's a market miracle! When someone undercuts you, that's a race to the bottom, and a clear sign of the end of the golden age...


> 2. To achieve the best X, we should allow our best X people to dedicate their lives to it full time.

Yeah, that's the real killer. One person comes up with the current best thing, and maybe even does it a few times. But a crowd or industry of like minded people can typically put out a fairly continual stream of stuff like that. Is any one person out of that crowd worth singling out for such treatment?

Another issue is things become "best" especially in entertainment when they're unique and creative. You can't bottle lightning, and you can't pay for it either. Individuals who pulled out the "best" for now will be stale tomorrow. How do you predict the next new "best" that hasn't put out anything at that level yet?


sounds like a good use of a basic income


The problem is that facebook changed their business model (so you have to pay for people to see your content - he calls it payola), and a lot of content providers did not change their business models away from expecting free publicity from facebook. Really, all funny or die needed to do is to switch to a mailing list-type setup, where they actually can reach their customers without paying auction prices for every message. They should basically have given up on facebook as a means of reaching new customers, except for signing people up to their mailing list-type setup, and then trimmed operations to work at whatever scale that business could support, with the knowledge that they could grow that operation on a monthly basis to eclipse their facebook viewership.

More content providers need to recognize that facebook sees their relationship as being zero sum, and that facebook controls all the cards in their own game, so it doesnt matter how many impressions/views you can get from facebook - they are the ones who benefit. You get to pay content generation costs.


I think it is a lot more fundamental than this. Facebook spent years building the unsexy stuff : a delivery platform that reaches eyeballs. Not only it works but it dwarfs all other delivery platforms.

It was being laughed at by all serious content creators who thought they had avenue, the content and the brand loyalty. Now we clearly know that there's only one Facebook and there are tons of content creators and those content creators are 100% interchangeable according to the general public as the layoffs in content creator space indicate.


By a 'mailing list-type setup', do you mean an actual email mailing list?

In my opinion, such a suggestion is naïve, when the masses flock to Facebook/YouTube for their digital 'comical' content. I say this without a better suggestion myself, other than the obvious need for a purging of the endemic memeification of the Facebook News Feed.


Being able to move from one video distribution platform to another or pivoting to a mailing list is not as easy as you purport and you may not have the numbers at the end of the day to keep the lights on.


Meanwhile, google is busy screwing people who have cultivated mailing lists for their fans by hiding that content from their inbox...


> The other solution, which seems crazy, is for there to be a meta organizing campaign, where media companies band together and refuse to post on Facebook, essentially going on strike and withholding their labor until they are compensated.

But why are media companies still posting on FB today, if they don't get compensated for it?? What's the point? Eyeballs with no revenue??

Still, it seems many Youtube personalities are still making money from the videos they post on YT. Why can't others do the same?


> Still, it seems many Youtube personalities are still making money from the videos they post on YT. Why can't others do the same?

Actually, there is a trend in past few months of YT personalities either moving to other sources of monetization, or stopping to bother uploading to YT completely.

For example lot of game streamers on Twitch, when asked why they upload so infrequently or not at all lately, they respond that it's not worth their while doing YT content anymore.

I think it has to do with YT's latest changes to their policies about video monetization and demonetization, coupled with their (automated) handling of (automated) copyright infringement claims by 3rd parties.


> Eyeballs with no revenue?

Presumably so. Recognition/fame/having a loyal following are going to be of great value to modern stand-up comedians. I imagine Facebook's non-monetized videos are more of an issue for someone using online videos as their primary source of revenue (i.e. YouTube personalities).

My understanding is that the music industry has been that way ever since music recordings could be published - top musicians make most of their money from performances, and only a small amount from royalties, but without the recordings they'd never have the large performances.


Actually the Grateful Dead pioneered this approach. People thought they were crazy giving recordings away.


Which works if you have a secondary method of making money (live shows, merch) which I doubt a lot of people making short comedy videos do.


Youtube's algorithm really favors long videos now which hurt the market for short comedy skit stuff. And their ad rate is terrible. The onion's channel makes like $150 a video. Which is nothing for professionally made content. Most big youtubers make money by begging for donations.


Unlike others here, I don't sympathise with this at all, so this may be unpopular with some people.

The complaint however seems to be: "we wanted Facebook to serve our interests, but Facebook wanted to serve their own interests for some inexplicable reason, so they suck".

I loathe Facebook and think the internet and the world would be a better place without it. I also - for that reason - don't fucking use it (support it) and certainly don't work on content and then put it on Facebook, because it's bleedin' obvious you don't get to 1.5 billion users by supporting other sites.

To cap it all, after all his whining, he's still a Facebook user to this day, simply kidding himself that he's sticking it to the man by impotently criticising it. As if anyone at Facebook cares what you do, so long as you do it on Facebook.

Facebook is - still - not the internet. If you don't like Facebook, don't use it, and definitely don't put your hard work there.

Meanwhile, if people stop visiting your site, maybe look closer to home instead of trying to lay the blame elsewhere.

He's basically a million other dinosaurs who had early success with something and is now reduced to self-pity about the 'good old days' because his 15 minutes are up, and people have moved on to something else.

Funny or die? Adapt or die.


I agree, I got the same feeling from this. Furthermore, one might argue this is how it all went along anyways:

- Some people start this website Funny or Die

- They manage to get some money from it

- They get a lot of traffic for free, because of Facebook and their sharing model

- They hire more comedy writers

- They feel entitled to be paid for their work, because apparently, it works

- Facebook changes how they link to websites

- Less people visit the website, less money for them, maybe because less people actually care about Funny or Die. Entitlement to get paid to be a comedy writer stays

- Whiny post about evil Facebook (and about how brainless people are that they stopped visiting Funny or Die directly)


> Entitlement to get paid to be a comedy writer stays

It's like you're saying that it's bad to be expected to get paid for work.


Being expected to get paid for employment and contractual work is fine. Expecting money to come in just because you spent time working on something, and put it out for the public to see, really isn't. Even if it happened to have made money in prior circumstances.

There's tons of work that people do, either out of interest, pleasure, or duty, that has no expectation of monetization attached. Who's going to pay for the work of some hobbyist building a ship in a bottle? Or getting paid for the hard work of redoing your own front yard? Or working on learning how to yodel? Or doing good deeds for others? Work is just effort spent; it's not a guaranteed exchange for money, unless some specific agreement is made.


> Expecting money to come in just because you spent time working on something, and put it out for the public to see, really isn't.

Expecting to be paid for work you did that other people are making money out of is perfectly legitimate, though. And that’s what this discussion is about: under the current model, their videos are popular enough that they get plenty of views on Facebook, Facebook gets to monetise them, but they see none of that money.


>, Facebook gets to monetise them, but they see none of that money.

But "Facebook gets to monetise them" because that's what FunnyOrDie signed up for. Let's emphasize that again: FunnyOrDie already knew that was the bargain when they submitted their content to Facebook. They knew that Facebook does not have direct web links back to their own url: www.funnyordie.com.

Apparently, they were ok with those disadvantages because they hoped to build enough "brand awareness" or "content loyalty" from viewers that FunnyOrDie could transcend the Facebook platform and attract viewers on their own. But that didn't happen.

If the CEO knew the new rules of Facebook's walled garden around publishers and wasn't tricked at the time he put his content on Facebook, it seems intellectually dishonest to complain when the exposure on Facebook "also known as marketing" didn't lead to the results he wanted.

If indeed Facebook did trick the CEO, then he should write about that as a public service warning to all of us. That's newsworthy. On the other hand, if he tried to use Facebook as a strategic marketing tool and it didn't lead to increased views+revenue on his own website, that's really on him and not Facebook. I'd guess most of HN readers without having an MBA degree already know that submitting original content to Facebook is a lopsided business bargain with very little chance of upside.


> If indeed Facebook did trick the CEO, then he should write about that as a public service warning to all of us. That's newsworthy.

Facebook did legitimately trick many of its clients with the "content from pages with more likes appears higher in users' news feed, if you want your content higher in the feed then advertise with us for more likes" / "lots of pages with many likes have low user engagement, we're rearranging the feed to prioritise content shared by family and friends" bait-and-switch.


> that's what FunnyOrDie signed up for

The choice they had was "monetize your content on Facebook or watch other people monetize your content on Facebook".


They could've got their content taken off Facebook. If Facebook was systematically allowing other people to post their content, they could've pursued that legally - there's a reason Youtube ended up with its ContentID stuff.


Yes, with sufficient investment they could eventually have got their content taken off Facebook, after most of the revenue had been given to other people.


>, with sufficient investment

But FunnyOrDie isn't a helpless college kid trying to monetize his home recordings of "iPhone unboxing" videos. They're a content business that got at least $18 million of VC money and bringing ~$40 million in revenue.[1] Therefore, the executives should have financial sophistication of how Facebook deals will or won't work in their favor.

>, after most of the revenue had been given to other people.

But why would other freebooters get the ad revenue and not FunnyOrDie? FOD is already paying money to Facebook for $0 ad revenue share just to send videos to users who follow them. If pirates pay nothing to upload and monetize FOD videos, why can't FOD just "pirate" <wink><wink> their own videos and get the same ad revenue?

In 2014, they had 20 million users per month on their own funnyordie.com website and ~5 million "likes" on Facebook. Yet somehow Facebook is the reason they had to lay off people?

Something doesn't add up.

[1] https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/03/15/how-does-f...


Look how far Viacom got suing youtube for copyright violations. I wouldn't be surprised if Viacom put on the order of $50 million dollars or more into that series of lawsuits.

But sure, FunnyOrDie could definitely compel Facebook to take down their videos...


Worded slightly differently, Funny or Die is incapable of monetizing that product in the current environment, but Facebook is capable of monetizing it. For that specific part of the issue, tough cookies Mr. Funny Man. Somebody got your product for peanuts and is doing way better with it.

Now, the other part of the issue would be if something like copyright infringement is happening around how it's being monetized. If so, then it's a real issue. If not, well, we're probably back to tough cookies. They don't own the distribution model, they agreed to it, they have no say otherwise besides to pull their content off and monetize it themselves; or skip the TOS and negotiate a different & specific contract with Facebook directly about how their content is handled (fat chance).


> Funny or Die is incapable of monetizing that product in the current environment, but Facebook is capable of monetizing it. For that specific part of the issue, tough cookies Mr. Funny Man. Somebody got your product for peanuts and is doing way better with it.

Is it not, in some sense, bad that Facebook is capable of monetizing the product and the people who made it aren't? It seems like you're just arguing that might is right.


It's bad from FB's side (this is debatable), but that doesn't mean Funny or Die has a viable product. FB makes money off of tons and tons of otherwise non-viable products that are willing to pay FB in the hope that they are viable.

If it was viable, it wouldn't need FB. Before the internet, how would they have made money with Funny or Die? They wouldn't. If they would have, they could easily pursue avenues outside of FB, because they still have the internet, and they can still approach publishers and producers - just like before the internet.


There part you are glossing over is that before FB it was viable. After FB it was no longer viable. Before the internet they would have made money at Mad magazine or similar publications.

This isn't an argument about economics though. This is an argument about the kind of society we want to build and live in. The author doesn't want to build a society where Facebook determines what is a viable business model or not. And for the most part Facebook is in fact who determines what is a viable business model.

You might want to live in that world but don't mis-characterize the author's position as something it isn't.


>There part you are glossing over is that before FB it was viable. After FB it was no longer viable.

It was founded in 2007, so I don't know what you're talking about.

>Before the internet they would have made money at Mad magazine or similar publications.

This is just speculation.

>This isn't an argument about economics though.

Really?

>This is an argument about the kind of society we want to build and live in.The author doesn't want to build a society where Facebook determines what is a viable business model or not. And for the most part Facebook is in fact who determines what is a viable business model.

So, it is an argument about economics. But, I was addressing a specific poster, who said:

>Is it not, in some sense, bad that Facebook is capable of monetizing the product and the people who made it aren't? It seems like you're just arguing that might is right.

So, show me where I mischaracterized the author's position. I don't like FB, and it's sad to me that so many artists sold their agency for eyeballs, but let's not pretend that there aren't other avenues or that the problem is with FB itself. It's a societal problem. Most people are stupid, lazy, and ignorant. Funny or Die is more of a symptom of this than an anecdote.


*Obviously, I meant antidote, not anecdote


> Is it not, in some sense, bad that Facebook is capable of monetizing the product and the people who made it aren't?

The market is not perfect, but usually it does a pretty good job of reflecting where the supply and demand is.

The part that Funny or Die do is fun and doesn't require specialised talent. The part that Facebook do requires more skill and is, on the whole, less interesting work. Users vote with their feet for Facebook over the disorganised web because Facebook provides a much better user experience. On the whole, Facebook makes a bigger and harder contribution to the end user's experience than Funny or Die.


Facebook doesn't make any contribution to the end user experience, it's a middle man. A rent seeker. A gatekeeper. It is one hundred percent dependent on content produced by other people, and that content is distributed by the telecoms. Facebook's entire business model is contingent on it's ability to get between those two things and charge a toll.


As an end user, I disagree. A consistent, clean UI was a big selling point for Facebook right from the start (even back when it was competing with LiveJournal); it's much lower-friction to watch FunnyOrDie-like videos on Facebook than on their website when every website has its own UI and most of them are worse than Facebook's. And a unified recommendation system across all kinds of content is absolutely huge; following a single source like FunnyOrDie and manually guessing which stuff you'll like or won't is much less effective than getting automatic recommendations from thousands of content creators in one place. Facebook adds a lot of value, that's why people use it.


Maybe you aren't familiar with Hacker News, or Reddit, who both aggregate content and have implemented a recommendation system without putting the content providers out of business.


I'd say both of them are putting the content providers out of business just as much as Facebook is. They just have less impact because they're less popular with end users.


Facebook is certainly overpowered and evil with large negative fallout from their behavior.

But "They have more resources and cheap licensing of our content, therefore can sell better than us!" isn't an actionable stance of any worth to combat a particular instance. Tons of productive people can't sell well, and are outpaced by inferior products sold by more effective salespeople/marketers/publishers/etc.

People are leaving YouTube because it's harder to make money now than it used to be. People will be leaving Facebook as well, the next thing will come along, and the cycle repeats.


You know, I was going to respond. I produced multiple million plus views comedy videos. I raked in those fat 4 figure paydays. Heh.

But then I realized that was all a decade ago and I have no idea how to do that today. Or if it's even possible now.


Some idiot posting a video of themselves doing something is timepass, not work.


Your are twisting what the person said and then presented it in different way to make it look awful. His main point was that, facebook is getting all the profit instead of content creators. And they are getting sacked. Your comments are derogatory in this topic.


But who's forcing the Funny or Die guy to put content on Facebook?


Nobody, but if they didn't then somebody else would put their content on Facebook and claim the income.


How does somebody like NetFlix deal with it? (E.g. a half hour show Standups.[1])

Does a pirate post the Netflix clip and therefore Facebook+pirate make money off of it? Or does Netflix issue a DMCA takedown so fast that it's a non issue?

(I realize that FunnyOrDie is voluntarily placing their show on the Facebook platform (and also paying Facebook to place their content there) ... but let's hypothesize what options FunnyOrDie has to keep their content off of Facebook.)

[1] https://www.netflix.com/title/80175685


I guess either Netflix's legal department gets on it or, more likely, the reuploader makes money off it.

According to [1], "Of the videos on Facebook, 72.5% are pirated. “According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1,000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen reuploads,” says Hank Green. “Just these 725 ‘freebooted’ videos were responsible for around 17 BILLION views last quarter.”

Admittedly that's 2015, entirely unfactchecked by me and (I've just learned) Facebook now has some new rights management tools, not sure how the land lies right now.

[1] https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-freebooting-wha...


They are doing exactly what YouTube did to begin with, "suffer" high levels of piracy to get people using the platform, slowly bring in tools to combat the piracy.


What about YouTube? I hear people can make a living off that with 100s of thousands of viewers or more - note sure that's Funny or Die's league, though?


Isn't that already illegal with proscribed legal remedies?


It's copyright infringement, but that doesn't make it not the case.

TBF I'm not entirely sure what the current play is with Facebook and freebooting. Last I knew it seemed like creating original content was extremely financially disincentivized compared to just reuploading other people's.


> His main point was that, facebook is getting all the profit instead of content creators. And they are getting sacked.

1. They did not build an avenue to reach their customer base. Instead they outsourced it to someone else. Now that someone else controls who they thought were their customers.

2. Their content is just not good enough. If it was good enough people would have paid for it.


If my comments are derogatory, what are comments like this?

"Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends."

"Facebook has completely destroyed independent digital comedy and we need to fucking talk about it."[1]

"[Facebook is] a lamer, shittier looking internet"[1]

"Facebook is essentially running a payola scam"[1]

"Facebook feels like this dingy, disgusting, rapacious place to me."[1]

[1] But it was "fine" when he was making a living from their traffic.


Totally agree. Without Facebook, they would probably never reached this level of success anyways. Also: Don't like Facebook? Don't fucking use it.


Yep the heart of the matter.

Techies thought the internet would be an end to gatekeepers and influencers. They were wrong. The Internet did not change humans.


If something, it gave them a megaphone :-)


> If you don't like facebook, don't use it. Not sure this is the answer. If enough people on fb created a group asking for a way to pay creative types, I imagine someone inside the place would notice it. That being said, my solution to the fb problem is to use it as little as possible.


How about a federated subscription? Form some kind of single login subscription model that supports several websites that are not necessarily corporately affiliated. The more sites in your federation the more clout it has. It could follow the fremium model to not turn everyone away yet allow the majority of good content to have a monitary return. I see this as an another potential answer to declining newspaper quality. The interent hasn't broken the law that says you get what you pay for.


I think you just described flattr or patreon.


Thanks for that. I wonder why it isn't interesting for major newspapers.


I feel like the whole LEAN mindset is also pushing this. Everyone is metrics, everyone is stats, you chase the numbers and fail to realise you might be making all your users miserable yet trapped.


"I was just angry and frustrated and sad that you can’t make cool shit for the internet anymore and make a living".

The internet existed before people made money from it. Plenty of cool shit back then.


I think saying it destroyed independent digital comedy is extremely incorrect.

Memes have taken off and are now the primary form of digital comedy. They’re cheap to create and distribute(both photo and video forms). Memes are alive and well and very much a form indepdent digital comedy. Memes are wildly popular.

Sometimes, most of the time?, memes are funnier than longer form digital content.

I think Funny or Die didn’t evolve quick enough so wants to place the blame on Facebook and while I think some of what he says is undeniable true, how do you explain memes?


I quit facebook years ago for this reason. Many people quit facebook for privacy reasons my main reason to quit was that facebook was consuming the open web. Where many businesses etc were using facebook as their main web presence. It allowed them to have low cost web presence but to me this was going to lead to death of the open web.


i wonder if someone has researched the eternal september problem in depth to prove if there is or there isn't a solution.


The solution for colleges was to only allow a limited number of admissions at one point in the year. Perhaps that could work again, have some number of spots to be filled that is a fraction of the current population and prioritize applicants based on their ability to perform some action such as writing a coherent essay or proving some stake in the community.


s/Comedy/Online short-format video content/g.

Facebook desperately needs to fix this situation - they've grossly mishandled their video solution in order to try to beat YouTube, and it's costing content creators billions. I can't imagine it will be too much longer before these people figure out a legal class and file a blockbuster lawsuit over it.


Time for Steemit and D.tube


> they are favoring things that are clickbait, things that are optimized for Facebook, low-quality things that appeal to the lowest common denominator and, honestly, just things at random

Isn't that the Internet nowadays? I mean the article headline is a good example. The correct version might have been more explanatory about the content like "interview with" or "Funny or Die lays off" or even about "online comedy" but they still went for a more click baity headline about Facebook killing all the comedy in the world.


TL;DR: Comedy isn't dying - that's just clickbait bullshit - but Facebook is making it difficult for independent comedy websites to survive, and content-producers can't monetize.

The article fails to distinguish the web from the Internet.

Interesting read, though. I would've thought it would be in Facebook's interest to become a good 'hub' for comedy. Maybe things will improve. (Ideally of course, things wouldn't 'improve' in the direction of silos like Facebook.)


> Interesting read, though. I would've thought it would be in Facebook's interest to become a good 'hub' for comedy.

It is in Facebook's interest. I'm sure Facebook would be willing to spend money to make Facebook offer a better comedy experience for their users. But why would they pay comedy producers when plenty of equally high-quality comedy is submitted there without them paying anything? As for offering a consistent interface, that's a feature rather than a bug, and as a Facebook user it's one I appreciate.


The article fails to distinguish the web from the Internet

To us geeks that is a fundamental thing but the target market for this content doesn’t know or care - they think “the Internet” is FB/Google/ YouTube/Twitter and that’s it


Another way I think Facebook is killing comedy is the outrage every time a comedian makes an edgy joke. I recognise this isn't solely caused by or limited to Facebook, but social networking is definitely a contributing factor.


I don't know if you're referencing anything specific, but comedians being edgy has never been an issue. Comedians being edgy to cover for their lack of humor is.

I've never been offended by a topic, but I have cringed at a lot of extremely bad jokes.


Top comedians seem to disagree with your absolute assertion.

https://www.cnn.com/2015/06/10/living/seinfeld-comedy-colleg...

Also, I seemed to have missed that vote that granted you the role of humor police, judging all that is and is not funny.


The point of an algorithm is it can work regardless of what values you put into it (my opinion or someone elses).

It's entirely possible that I don't have a good/common/high brow/low brow/whatever sense of humor (though I obviously think I have a great one), but the entire point I was making was:

Am I as a comedian approaching this subject in the service of my joke/keen insight, or am I doing it for shock value/to be "edgy"?

I guess the audience can never truly know, but that doesn't change the fact that it is often varying degrees of obvious.


That sounds like how a developer would approach comedy.


> It’s the Jurassic Park lesson: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I sympathize with the main point in the article. But this statement is stupid in the extreme. You should do everything you can.


I'm pretty sure you can jump off a high building, but I would not recommend that you actually do it.


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