Like everyone in the writing biz, we rely heavily on Facebook to drive traffic to our site. Nobody really likes this, but it’s just the way things are these days. So when Facebook made some changes to its algorithms a couple of years ago that were supposed to have a modest effect, we were pretty stunned when our reach plummeted. A few days ago the Wall Street Journal told us how this had happened:
In late 2017, when Facebook tweaked its newsfeed algorithm to minimize the presence of political news, policy executives were concerned about the outsize impact of the changes on the right, including the Daily Wire, people familiar with the matter said. Engineers redesigned their intended changes so that left-leaning sites like Mother Jones were affected more than previously planned, the people said. Mr. Zuckerberg approved the plans.
This would be easier to take if Facebook really did have a liberal tilt that needed correction. But it doesn’t. Its daily top ten list of news posts routinely includes something like seven or eight conservative sites. Its own videos warning against fake news provide examples solely of conservative misconduct. The problem is not that Facebook underrepresents conservatives. The problem is that it’s under constant assault from conservative politicians who make up weepy—and ridiculously fanciful—stories about how they’re discriminated against.
For Mother Jones, the result of all this has been a big loss of revenue, probably something on the order of half a million dollars. This is one of the reasons we do regular fundraisers: it costs a lot to produce our website and our magazine, and we have to make up for the loss of traffic that was deliberately engineered by Facebook two years ago. That’s why we’re doing one now.
I’m going to keep bugging you about this, because the world needs more outlets like MoJo, and I get that everyone might be a little fundraised out toward the end of an election season. But we’re a continuous operation, and we need to keep the doors open 365 days a year. So how about a little help making up for what Facebook did to us? Here’s the link for contributions:
You can contribute once or sign up for a monthly donation. And it’s tax deductible. The more you donate, the more you save!