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Facebook’s pivot to video clip didn’t simply burn publishers. It didn’t even work because that Facebook

The phrase “pivot to video” has become a joke, shorthand for a media company’s last-ditch effort to rotate things roughly before the layoffs begin.

You are watching: I can t even video

“Today’s metrics are tomorrow’s punchlines, and also yesterday’s pivot is today’s clumsy tumble,” Vice’s union tweeted on august 26, complying with the company’s remove of 17 staffers across Vice and also Refinery 29.

The layoffs were preceded, just a month earlier, by an notice from Vice the it would certainly “reduce the number of old-fashioned text posts on, Refinery29 and another Vice-owned site, i-D, through 40 to 50 percent,” while boosting videos and also visual stories on Instagram and YouTube “by the very same amount.”

It all feels really five year ago. As we’ve documented, beginning around 2016, on facebook executives including Mark Zuckerberg began pushing the notion that news video on facebook was publishers’ shining future, a “new golden age.”

It transforms out that the metrics that facebook was making use of to measure engagement through news video clip were wrong, massively overestimating the quantity of time the users invested consuming video clip ads. In 2019, Facebook cleared up a lawsuit through those advertisers, payment them $40 million (while admitting no wrongdoing). Yet it was too late for the publishers who’d already pivoted come Facebook video clip and then either made huge cuts or close up door down completely when it turned out human being weren’t actually watching.

And now we have much more proof that they weren’t watching, in the kind of a tidbit from The wall Street Journal’s big ongoing investigation right into a trove of internal Facebook documents. In a story released Wednesday, Keach Heagy and Jeff Horwitz detailed how users’ engagement v Facebook began falling in 2017. Turns out that video clip did not sluggish the decline, however may actually have contributed to it:

Comments, likes and reshares declined through 2017, when “original broadcast” posts — the paragraph and also photo a human might article when a dog dies — ongoing a yearslong decrease that no treatment seemed able to stop, according to the internal memos. The are afraid was that ultimately users could stop making use of Facebook altogether.

One data scientist stated in a 2020 memo that Facebook groups studied the issue and also “never really identified why metrics declined.” The team members at some point concluded that the ubiquity of video clip and various other professionally produced content, rather than organic short articles from individuals, to be likely part of the problem.

Facebook’s solution? Ratchet increase the anger! It functioned where all that facebook Live walk not.

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There is one means that the video clip pivots and also layoffs the 2021 are various from the previously round: Executives don’t mention Facebook anymore.

“Across our news brands we watch consistent worldwide growth ~ above text short articles as a way to reach and grow new audiences,” Cory Haik, Vice’s chief digital officer, created in that layoff memo critical month. “Alternatively, our digital entertainment brands like NOISEY and also MUNCHIES have had actually a remarkable increase in views and also engagement v our intuitive platforms (YouTube, Instagram) yet a precipitous decrease in text usage over the last few years, about 75 percent.”