Corporate mainstream media, the New York Times among them, often come after Facebook for not policing and censoring its 2.5+ billion users efficiently and quickly enough.
But the NYT recently found out first hand how easy or hard, and costly, it is to actually “moderate” i.e., herd users and their content inside strictly confined rules.
With the abandonment of NYT’s “Food Only” Facebook group, that appears as having been harder than the paper imagined or would be willing to admit, even when the topic is innocuous enough, and the number of people in a group minuscule compared to all of Facebook.
Namely, the NYT left the 77,000-member cooking group after two years, reportedly for the paper’s inability to moderate it properly. At first, the cooking group seemed to be one big kumbaya, with NYT’s own reporters and those from other publications saying it was a friendly and comfortable place, “a happy corner of the internet.”
Now, it appears the group’s members are baffled as to why the move was made, the truth is the NYT is no longer bothered to spend time, which is money, in maintaining it. And the higher and more intricate and complex the “moderating” standards and rules are, the bigger this job becomes over time.
There were other reasons, hinted at in a post NYT editors left on the group’s page announcing the paper was out, and that 10 or 20 volunteers were now free to take over as moderators: the group has become about more than just the NYT, or recipes.)
Of course it would do. When 77,000 people gather in one place, especially a (digital) public square like Facebook, they are going to talk about a lot of things. Have NYT editors never been to a party, or have they forgotten what one is like, after more than a year of lockdowns? And because the group was composed of real people, their real lives, affected by big issues, like the pandemic and the US presidential election, those started to show up in their conversations.
But in the end, it all comes down to money. NYT was paying people to moderate the group – and now, apparently, the publisher prefers the crowdsource for free.