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Publishers on their Facebook relationship: It’s complicated

With Facebook’s 1.7 billion users, it’s no wonder media companies are tailoring their editorial strategies to give the social giant what it wants. But that comes at a cost. Facebook can dial down the traffic it’s sending publishers at any time, and it’s also competing with them for finite ad dollars. So on Day One of the Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne, Florida, we asked a handful of publishers: Is Facebook friend or foe? Here’s what they said.

Paul Rossi, president, The Economist
I think it’s friend, but not all friends are created equal. One of the difficulties is, a lot of media companies feel Facebook has some moral obligation towards media, and it does not. You have to understand where they make their money, and don’t be surprised if that isn’t compatible with how media companies make money. I think of it more as a PR relationship. There’s no moral obligation to support media.

Melissa Bell, publisher, Vox Media
I don’t think it’s either. It might be someone you want to have a beer with. But at the end of the day, it’s a business partnership.

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