Okay, not really. No listicles on listicles here.
But Maddox, nom de plume of George Ouzounian and proprietor of The Best Page in the Universe, took his shot at doing what many have tried before: listing the reasons why BuzzFeed is terrible for everyone.
Most attempted BuzzFeed takedowns come off as petty and jealous. This does not. Maddox’s video seemingly comes from a place of rational, justified anger. And while his points about intentionally shaky sourcing, stolen content and a lack of editorial point of view have been discussed ad nauseum, what sets this apart from the rest is the section on why BuzzFeed makes the lists it does and how you’re a pawn who’s getting used: “Nobody at BuzzFeed gives a shit about you” is the ultimate money shot.
Catch that middle section? This is the goods right here:
“These articles are designed to mine clicks from a specific demographic so BuzzFeed can use these metrics to sell sponsored content to regional advertisers. Nobody at BuzzFeed gives a shit about you, Michigan State University or the problems Hawaiians are suffering from. You’re a pawn. They’re using you for clicks to sell you to the highest bidder. You mean less than nothing to them.”
It’s positively Glenn Beckian. It’s Lonesome Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd, without the charm of Andy Griffith. Most companies laugh all the way to the bank, on your back, but you know it. BuzzFeed, Maddox points out, is laughing at its audience when they think it’s laughing with them.
Follow @SladeHV on Twitter for more news and nonsense.
UPDATE: Philip Bump at The Atlantic Wire, who has written extensively about the shittiness of BuzzFeed, pushes back a bit on this:
As New York magazine documented earlier this year, the site generally partners with major brands for its sponsored content. When we looked at the breakdown between staff, community, and sponsored posts in April, about 5 percent of the traffic from the top 200 users came from sponsored posts. Mass Effect 3, E!, Intel. Big brands, not regional ones. (BuzzFeed has since moved its top user data.) The goal of what we call the “Signs You” posts — “34 Signs You Went to San Jose State University,” or whatever — probably isn’t to get advertisers in San Jose to sponsor content. And it’s certainly not to get them to buy ads; BuzzFeed doesn’t run ads.
Instead, those posts are eternal traffic engines, providing one-stop lists for colleges that will last for years, reliably being passed around by kids that went to that school or who live in whatever town. The goal is traffic — BuzzFeed’s sales pitch to advertisers. “We are the media company for the social age,” its ad sales page reads. “BuzzFeed enables SuperSharing!” All those San Jose State grads, passing around that listicle: SuperShared.