Here’s a juicy bit of gossip about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti.
Gawker Media leader (and Peretti foil) Nick Denton says that last year Peretti told Zuckerberg to tweak News Feed algorithms to spray more traffic at publishers. Peretti said that media organisations would see the insane traffic numbers and quickly realise how big and powerful Facebook really is. He suggested that it would result in better press for Facebook.
At the end of 2013, traffic from Facebook to sites like Business Insider, Gawker, BuzzFeed, and many others has exploded. Facebook later dialed back some of the traffic, which impacted sites that specialised in viral content on Facebook.
I heard a story which might illuminate this relationship. Last year, Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti advised Zuckerberg on how to win over the media.
Show them how much traffic you can drive, Peretti advised. That will cure the journalists of their attachment to Twitter, and get better press for Facebook.
After that meeting, Facebook changed its algorithm, boosting traffic to news sites such as Gawker, but above lifting those the viral media companies that specialize in the Facebook audience.
The account comes from someone who knows Peretti, but it’s from last year. I have no idea whether Peretti’s relationship with Zuckerberg helped them in the latest change in the Facebook algorithm, which hit sites like Upworthy and Viralnova, but has left Buzzfeed (and Gawker Media) unscathed.
We reached out to Peretti for comment but he hasn’t responded.