Internet Sewer BuzzFeed Deletes Stories Because of Advertiser Pressure

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:54 am

Advertisers might want to ask themselves why they spend money on a cat photo blog run by an incompetent buffoon with zero accountability.

An internal review by BuzzFeed last week found three instances when editors deleted posts after an advertiser or employees from the company’s business side complained about their content, according to a memo sent to staff members on Saturday by the news and entertainment website’s editor in chief.

The three deleted posts — out of more than 1,000 expunged for other reasons, according to the memo — had criticized products or advertisements produced by Microsoft, Pepsiand Axe body spray, a Unilever product. In the memo, the editor, Ben Smith, wrote that they were “pulled after an editor fielded a complaint from a business-side BuzzFeed staff member who worked with a brand mentioned in the piece.”

The disclosure about the reasons for the deletions came four months after BuzzFeed unveiled editorial guidelines meant to highlight its continuing attempt to transform from a creator and aggregator of viral web content into a digital news organization. It also followed an admission this month by Mr. Smith that he had ordered editors to delete two other posts critical of BuzzFeed advertisers: Dove soap — also produced by Unilever — and the toy manufacturer Hasbro.

Then again, a toy manufacturer is aiming for the right demographic with BuzzFeed readers.

Mr. Smith later reinstated the two posts, saying he had overreacted when asking editors to delete them. He told staff members in a note that the posts had been erased after he took issue with their opinionated tone and not because of complaints from advertisers. The results of the review were first reported by the website Gawker on Saturday.

Gawker vs. BuzzFeed. Can we hope for mutually assured destruction?

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