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Who wins when Facebook becomes a new platform?
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Facebook announced this week that it is in negotiation with media outlets like Buzzfeed, The New York Times and National Geographic to host content within Facebook's site and app. - photo by Chandra Johnson
Facebook announced this week that it is in negotiation with media outlets like Buzzfeed, The New York Times and National Geographic to host content within Facebook's site and app.

As Newsonomic's Ken Doctor reported, this sharing agreement could shake out differently for different business models from traditional, "legacy" institutions like the Times to free-content, web-only approaches like Buzzfeed.

"BuzzFeed gets an astounding 75 percent of its traffic from social overall. More than 60 percent of the Times revenue now comes from readers. Its paying digital audience of about 900,000 now outnumbers its daily print paying audience," Doctor wrote. "Facebook is the place of the moment. The key is finding a comfortable place in its uncertain firmament."

But as Yahoo News' Mathew Ingram pointed out, it's what news outlets don't yet know about the potential bargain that should give them pause.

"The details of whose content gets recommended or not recommended would be totally under Facebooks control," Ingram wrote. "The unfortunate reality of dealing with Facebook is that, as with Google, its algorithm is a black box."

To do business with Facebook, Ingram suggests, could mean surrendering control to the social media site entirely a practice many traditional journalism institutions avoid on principle.

Yet choosing not to participate in Facebook's plan might prove just as dangerous a game, as Vox's Timothy B. Lee reported, because traditional media outlets risk becoming irrelevant by clinging to a business model the Internet is tearing apart: Namely, deciding what people should read and well as the content itself.

"We're not used to thinking about these as separate functions because in traditional news organizations especially newspapers and magazines they were always packaged together," Lee wrote. "The Internet is pulling them apart. And once you start to think about these as distinct functions, the apparent dangers of Facebook-hosted content no longer seem so threatening."