There continue to be conversations around whether Facebook has grown too large and now commands too much of the attention economy, as well as the advertising economy. The company, along with a few others, is such a behemoth that it while it can’t actually stop anyone from launching a competitive product but it can buy them out and integrate that team to keep expanding while also eliminating other players from the field. It is, in every sense of the word, a monopoly.
Because of that power it can do whatever it wants. For years it made the pitch to media and other companies that Facebook was the place to come and connect with their audiences. It slowly but surely changed the terms of the deal so that if a brand of any kind reaches 5% of its followers with any given post it’s doing pretty damn good. But the legacy media brands had already accumulated millions of fans and so, while the numbers have certainly shifted, they have a big head start.
All of that recently lead Complex Media CEO Rich Antonelli to talk recently about how it would be next to impossible to successfully launch a media company on the platform today. The deck is too imposingly stacked against any player trying to start from scratch to make Facebook a viable option for establishing itself in any substantial way. If you have a ton of venture capital to burn through on promoted posts and production of engagement-centric videos, maybe, but if you’re an actual upstart operating on a shoestring budget, you’re out of luck.
So at the same time media consolidation and closure is rampant due to Facebook sucking the life out of the advertising industry it’s putting a restrictor plate on the organic rise of any potential challengers.
There are a number of good reasons to consider how Facebook (and other tech media companies) might need to be broken up in some manner, which seems to me to be a preferable solution over heavy – and likely ignorantly-framed – regulation, but the way it controls the fate of the media industry in several ways seems like it should be at the top of that list.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.