Facebook’s Retreat from News and Algo Change Panics Buzzfeed

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it is getting out of the news business and going back to connecting people with personal stuff:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers…” 

Good for people who want to share pictures of their cats, bad for media organisations that have a business model based on cat GIFs. Twitter’s stock price rose 5% on the news that they will now be the main social news platform…

For Buzzfeed and other Facebook traffic driven organisations this is bad news, Buzzfeed gets some 23% of their traffic at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg. Unsurprisingly Buzzfeed bought adverts on Facebook on Friday pushing soon to be lost users to download their app. At one time Buzzfeed were spending millions on Facebook adverts, they may well have to do so again if their content is dropped from the Facebook feed. In the political sphere those sites that specialise in clickbaity headlines designed to go viral on Facebook may see a drop in traffic…

Approximately 7% of Guido’s traffic is referred from Facebook. Twitter on the other hand drives 23% of our traffic, just behind Google on 24%. The Spectator and Breitbart also rely on Facebook for some ~7% to 8% of their traffic. Skwawkbox and The Canary rely on Facebook respectively for a massive ~40% and ~48% of traffic…

N.B. Traffic data sourced from Similarweb.

Billionaire Backer Dumps Breitbart Because of Milo

Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer announced today that he was cutting all financial ties with Breitbart News and Milo Yiannopoulos. He released a statement explaining his ideological stance and distancing himself from Milo and Breitbart:

A society founded on the basis of the individual freedom that flourishes under a limited federal government has no place for discrimination. Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group.

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or anything of that sort is abhorrent to me. But more than that, it is ignorant.

The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon’s. l have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.

Without individuals thinking for themselves, society as a whole will struggle to distinguish the signal of truth from the correlated noise of conformity. I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream and his spotlighting of the hypocrisy of those who would close down free speech in the name of political correctness would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today. But in my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. l was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.

For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters.

Last Guido heard Milo was pretty tight with Rebekah Mercer, though we have been unable to confirm if that is still the case…

Breitbart Readers Offered “Military Grade” Armageddon Survival Kits

Breitbart has sent its readers a “special message” warning that the world is on the brink of a “major crisis” and telling them they should buy a “4-week survival food supply” in case of impending economic doom:
The economy is teetering on the brink of collapse – all it takes is one bad day to bring the overly-inflated stock market bubble down. Meanwhile, our government doesn’t have the capacity – let alone the unity – to protect and provide for all in the event of a major crisis. That’s why every responsible citizen needs to take it upon themselves to prepare while there’s still time.”
If you want the Breitbart-endorsed package wrapped “in military-grae Mylar, which keeps your food fresh for up to 25 years” you’ll find it at My Patriot SupplyNot exactly a vote of confidence in President Trump…

Milo Quits Breitbart, Watch Press Conference Live

He says he’ll publish his book anyway and give 10% of the royalties to child abuse charities…

DfE Counter-Extremism Unit Shuts Down Milo Speech

The Department for Education’s counter-extremism unit has reportedly ordered Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury to cancel a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, the flaxen-haired Trump-supporting Breitbart provocateur. Milo was due to give a talk at his old school, which 220 pupils had signed up to attend. The school says the decision to shut the talk down was made “following contact from the Department for Education’s counter-extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community”. They add that the talk was backed by pupils, parents and teachers and say they are disappointed at the DfE’s decision. Milo says:

“My old high school has been bullied into cancelling my talk on Tuesday by the “counter-extremism” unit at the U.K. Department of Education. Who even knew the DoE had a counter-extremism unit? And that it wasn’t set up to combat terrorism but rather to punish gays with the wrong opinions?… Disgusted.”

The DfE’s counter-extremism unit was not set up to silence satirical stage acts like Milo, Guido cannot ever recall him advocating violence – banning him from speaking at his old school is bonkers. A school is having to no-platform speakers because of government intervention and the threat of demonstrations. Have Milo’s opponents learned nothing from the last few weeks?

UPDATE: A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“When concerns are raised by members of the public following media coverage in advance of an event, the department would contact the school as a matter of routine to check they had considered any potential issues. The decision to cancel the event was a matter for the school.”

Beeb’s Bannon Bashing Backfires

An entertaining Today programme to-and-fro about Breitbart’s chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Justin Webb boldly told Breitbart* editor Joel Pollack that Bannon “doesn’t like Jews”, Pollack replied that he is an orthodox Jew who observes the Shabbat and eats kosher food, and that Bannon is not an anti-Semite. Undeterred, Webb asked why a Breitbart report mentioned that the journalist Anne Applebaum is Jewish. Pollack replied: “I don’t know, why don’t you ask the Jewish author of that sentence?” For those interested, it’s worth reading Iain Martin and Freddy Gray on Bannon. Rather than learn the lessons from the election the liberal media has reverted to its perennially outraged misfiring attack mode…

*Andrew Breitbart himself was Jewish.

What Does Steve Bannon Believe?

Steve Bannon provokes a lot of controversy. Perhaps it is best to listen to his own words as given to a Catholic symposium [transcript]. He has a coherent ideology, it is not as you might have read. It is rooted in a belief in a capitalism in the context of Judaeo-Christian civilisation. He has a critique of capitalism which echoes the traditional Catholic criticism of free market capitalism. He is intellectually closer to Philip Blond than Friedrich Hayek …

Full text transcript on Buzzfeed.

Breitbart Boss to Run Trump Campaign

Donald Trump has hired pugnacious Breitbart chief Steve Bannon as his new campaign CEO. Bannon was instrumental in founding Breitbart London, he’s a former officer in the US navy who loved British writers like James Delingpole and had dreams of a Tea Party-style anti-establishment movement in the UK. He is an admirer of UKIP though he wishes they didn’t keep selling out and were a bit more right-wing. He signed up both Farage as a columnist and Raheem Kassam (later Nigel’s chief aide) as his London editor. Bannon is a no-nonsense, tough operator who says “we call ourselves the Fight Club. You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy”Raheem in the White House?

On Comments & Readership

TRAFFIC-GROWTH

Back in 2009, when Guido was a one man blog, the site generated just over 9 million page views. With 3 bloggers in the following 2010 election year the site generated just short of 19 million hits. In the 2015 election year the site got just short of 35 million hits from over 7 million unique users. We’re on trend to reach 10 million users and 50 million hits by 2020…

Unlike most of our digital rivals we don’t have any debts or hordes of hungry venture capitalists to placate. Nor are we subsidised by billionaires or union barons. We are growing organically rather than going for a profitless land-grab…

This is a good time to update readers on our periodical jihad against toxic, boring repetitive comments from people to whom you would not want to be sat next to in a pub. We want the comments to be like a fun pub with a good atmosphere and friendly banter. Last year we introduced Disqus comment registration and we were told – by the same boring, repetitive comment makers – that it would be the end of the site. Traffic rose. We blocked 20 toxic trolls last month and it made little difference to even the number of comments received, we still had 81,772 comments. We warned toxic trolls they were in danger of getting blocked and we blocked them for repeat offences. That is our arbitrary policy.

commentsThey can of course come back if they make the effort of using a combination of new email addresses and proxy servers. Guido has only one question: why bother? There is a website that is almost entirely focused on immigration and Islam – the issues that motivate comment bores most. 2014’sIslamophobe of the Year“, Raheem Kassam, confirms that he has no intention of blocking anyone. Breitbart is the place for you to bang on repetitively in a forum that welcomes you. Guido asked Raheem did he welcome our banned comment makers? He replied:

“Bring me your (sick and) tired, your poor (grammar), your angry masses, yearning to be free (to say what they want).”

Go where you are appreciated. Bye, bye! 

Turmoil at Breitbart London

breitbart-kassam-milo-delin

Guido understands that shock-jock firebrands James Delingpole and Milo Yiannopou‎los are both exiting Breitbart London. The return of Farage’s former chief of staff Raheem Kassam to Breitbart has left the two in despair, after they had spent nine months trying to move the site away from the hectoring Tea Party-style news service Kassam ran it as during his previous stint at the site. Kassam says the US-funded site will once again take a keen interest in UKIP’s affairs.

Rumour has it the two have retreated to the country to plan a new YouTube-heavy entertainment website of their own. ‎The walkout is bad news for Breitbart London, Delingpole and Yiannopoulos were two of the most well known writers on the staff and both are brands in their own right with considerable personal followings; Delingpole on environmental issues and Yiannopoulos with his unique combination of gender identity and video gaming expertise. Guido understands they are considering casual freelance contracts but insisting on no day-to-day responsibilities to “avoid ever having to be in the same room as Kassam” again…

The ever energetic Kassam more generously says “James and Milo have been fantastic columnists for Breitbart London, we wouldn’t be where we are now without them. I hope that despite the loss of editorial control they will continue to contribute to the site.” Delingpole had whilst executive editor failed to convince his US paymasters that Breitbart’s London contributors should be paid on time – in some cases for up to 5 months. Raheem’s return to the editor’s chair has at last seen writers paid and he reveals that his new star columnist, as of next week, will be one Nigel Farage…

UPDATE: A friend of Delingpole emphasises he constantly badgered his US paymasters on behalf of the writers and it was not his fault.

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