Shitstorm, Thy Name is Buzzfeed

July 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Pretty much everything about Buzzfeed’s Doxxergate scandal is annoying, but that’s what makes the story interesting. Chris posted a nice recap over at Modern Primate, which is worth a read. My take is maybe a bit more measured, predicated in part on my utter disdain for everything Buzzfeed (whose business model can essentially be summarized as “let’s steal a bunch of pictures we find on the internet and give the list a hyperbolic name, for example THE 50 MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT PICTURES OF, I dunno, horses or something, and then only half the pictures are of horses, or are even remotely historically significant”) and partly on my incredulity that a government employee would be stupid enough to post that sort of thing under his actual name. Which isn’t to say that I condone what he said, but if you ARE going to say something so stupid –with your place of employment tacked right onto the end, no less– then you had better prepare yourself for CONSEQUENCES.

In other words, I’m torn. Both parties are very dumb, and both parties fucked up, though Buzzfeed’s fuckup is more egregious — and simultaneously less surprising, which I’ll get to in a second. In his article, Chris focuses on the former point. Buzzfeed is MASSIVE in terms of reach, he argues, and as such, should more careful about how they wield that power, not just in Alex Laska’s case but generally. I don’t disagree, but my initial reaction was tempered by considerable lack of let’s say shock. Of COURSE Buzzfeed would do something like that — they’re the biggest aggregator out there, they don’t have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes. Their job is to grab hold of as many toes as they can find –doesn’t matter whose, they won’t bother keeping track– and slap on as many pricetags as will fit. They are not, in other words, in the fairness business. They are however in the display ad and click-through business. Alex Laska’s stupidity is literally their bread and butter. So why would anyone be surprised they’d turn around and eat him?


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§ 2 Responses to Shitstorm, Thy Name is Buzzfeed

  • Anonymous says:

    I’ll hazard the unfounded guess that while us internet users/media consumers/whatever Joe Public goes by these days are pretty used to the idea of hazy subcultural organisations arranging campaigns like this, maybe we’re less comfortable with the idea of a big culture-industry player doing it. It’s not that we expect better from corporations, just that the subterfuge should be less obvious, dammit. They may not have to worry about stepping on toes, but we’re rather not be reminded of that fact.

    In other news, here’s a very subtle and nuanced attempt at corporate astroturfing, as chronicled by the Cheezburger Network:

    • Yes agreed. I will eat your sausage, even though I know that your sausage is bad for me. But do not make me watch you MAKE it. I do have some boundaries, you perverts.

      Also ——- Chick-fil-a seems like a pretty cool teenage girl. I wonder if her parents have given her the talk about not sexting before marriage??

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