By Benjamin Mountain
Ordering your newest clothing, reading an article or just surfing, there is a pretty good chance that you are either on or about to go on the Internet. At any given moment, hundreds of thousands of bytes of information are being sent, received, read, acknowledged, replied, ignored, laughed at or ranted about. With access to all of this information at any given moment with the use of laptops, tablets, phones and more, our generation has been introduced to a whole new system of communication and information transportation. People want more news, better news, real news, and they want it at the touch of their fingertips. One website in particular, BuzzFeed, has become the new hub of viral information on the Internet.
I’m sure the majority of you are always skeptical of the information you see online. Headlines of insane articles such as “Extreme Knife Ping Pong!” and “Neighborhood Safer After Mayor Vanquishes Fire Troll” only break the ice with the amount of satire mascarading as real news. But one website in particular is trying to bring the truth back to online publication. Buzzfeed Incorporated.
In short, they are a viral news website. Anything that is current and isn’t yet seen online, they research, analyze, and post. As said by Stephen Colbert in an interview with founder Jonah Peretti. “What you’ve got, is the future of news.” But is this website too good to be true? Can we really have the speed and truth in viral media while having the validity of real news?
That’s the trickiest question of all. Of course, there is a hint of subjectivity in every news report. As humans, we cannot help but have perspective; this is exactly what BuzzFeed is relying on. Since the acquisition of current Editor-in-Chief Steve Kandell in 2012, BuzzFeed has now focused more on social advertising: using the social environment to target an audience with advertisements.
And they have done just that. Jon Steinberg said, “Banners are not going to be what’s gonna cross the chasm in this new media universe, it’s gonna be content driven social advertising.” Although many critics don’t agree with him, he has a valid point. Look at some of the most visited websites to this day: Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo. These websites generate more money than you would ever imagine simply by encouraging users to click on paid links. Using this method, BuzzFeed has covertly created a market without having to sell anything. Although this could be seen as taking advantage of the users, BuzzFeed requires no payment to view the articles, quizzes or videos, and users get fun, informative lists and articles.
While many may claim that Buzzfeed is not real news, they do take the time to fact-check their posts. And even if a few facts aren’t straight, it’s better that our generation get some news mixed in with our cat videos and online shopping.