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On Buzzfeed.com PersonhoodUSA has posted stuff like 8 Outrageous Things Planned Parenthood Was Caught Doing, 5 Bizarre “Persons” Protected By Law and 10 Celebrities Who Came Out As Pro-Life, all very clickbaity and listicles, just the way Buzzfeed cribbed it from cracked.com.
This prompted feminist author & blogger Jessica Valenti to query on twitter:
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) August 23, 2013
And soon the Observer reported 'amid anger over anti-abortion posts Buzzfeed says it's still figuring out whether to draw lines. BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith also dropped in this gem:
“one of the few ways these posts get seen are from stories like the one you wrote. There isn’t a single link on BuzzFeed to this story, but there is one in the New York Observer.“
Suggesting perhaps, that we should ignore Buzzfeed to death, which isn't a bad idea.
The Observer aren't the only ones though, the Wonkette, Mediaite and The Frisky have all noted that Buzzfeed publishes anti planned-parenthood posts. The posts aren't doing as well as most of Buzzfeed's clickbait fare, but with 10000 views from Twitter, they're not doing too bad either. With the added shock some are expressing over finding this at Buzzfeed - as if it was a bastion of serious journalism - they're attracting even more clicks. This is partly why a 'community blog' area is attractive to the community bloggers. They get to put their posts under the known masthead of Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, and Buzzfeed, thereby borrowing some of the mastheads fame and traffic. They may even print up business cards declaring themselves "a Forbes blogger" and win bookdeals on the fact that they're "A Huffington post blogger". Why else would people give away their writing prowess for free? I've long said that for brands like Forbes, it's a high risk and will dilute their brand to allow bloggers in under their masthead. Especially when one doesn't differentiate between your posts, paid posts and community posts very well.
Only one of the posts made by PersonhoodUSA has this note:
Community posts are made by members of the community, and are not vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed.
It's not a standard note, and this one was clearly put there as a response to the outrage on twitter.
It was only a matter of time before activists and brands used this opportunity to sneak in under the masthead. In fact this tactic was the main strategy in Alpha1 fake statue of liberty stunt, as they posted the news on iCNN and then set that link loose on the world hoping that everyone would believe it to be an actual CNN report. Later this was even on Buzzfeed proving that getting published there is as easy as submitting an image to Imgur.
Now, Buzzfeed encourages their community bloggers to write like Buzzfeed does, to fit in the 'brand' of Buzzfeed. No matter what we may think of the topic, the listicle style writing is pitch perfect Buzzfeed. In "5 Radical Effects Of Personhood" they even use reaction-gifs for each point. It's only the hot button topic that has left the world reacting to this post.
This is what Buzzfeed sells their "sponsored content" areas on. They'll charge you dear advertiser for a space to post about kittens in mittens or puppies on Toyotas, and they'll even help you make it so listicious that people mistake it for a real Buzzfeed post, thereby ensuring that people see your kitten-mittens. But why not just have your social media intern trawl Imgur for kitten-pics and make a fun post without paying for the pleasure? Buzzfeed's 'community blog' undermines any reason for Brands to buy in to their advertorial space.
The kitten listicle is attributed to "Buzzfeed" when people share it, nobody notices what brand sponsors it, as this anti-planned parenthood listicle has just proven.