Facebook’s Other Critics: Its Viral Stars

For the past two years, Ryan Hamilton has been getting Facebook-famous. Mr. Hamilton, 28, manages a network of Facebook pages and makes viral videos for his “Hammy T.V.” channel — mostly lowbrow fare with titles like “Shocking Pit Bull Social Experiment” and “World’s Hottest Pepper on Girlfriend’s Thong” — that have earned him a level of popularity typically associated with Kardashians and BuzzFeed food clips.
But to hear Mr. Hamilton tell it, Facebook has failed him.
“It’s a complete mess,” he said. “No one trusts Facebook.”
Unlike the lawmakers who will grill Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, in congressional testimony this week, Facebook influencers generally aren’t bothered by data privacy issues or Russian propaganda campaigns. Their concerns are closer to home.
They say that the company’s recent decision to emphasize stories shared by friends and family as well as trusted news outlets — part of the company’s response to an epidemic of sensationalized clickbait and false news, and an attempt to foster what Mr. Zuckerberg has called “meaningful social interaction” — has hidden them from view. They argue that Facebook owes much of its growth to the kinds of entertainment they offer, and that users will spend less time on the social network if it’s not shown to them.

Photo

Ryan Hamilton works full time to manage pages and make videos on Facebook. “I did 1.8 billion views last year,” he said. “I made no money from Facebook. Not even a dollar.” Credit Ryan Burges

“Facebook has got to start treating influencers with more respect,” said Roozy Lee, a social media promoter who manages a network of celebrity and influencer Facebook pages with more than 200 million combined followers. “These people need to make a living.”
Chief among influencers’ complaints: Even though Facebook has made it easy for them to reach enormous audiences, it has been slow to deliver tools that would let them share in the advertising revenue their posts generate. Facebook has also cracked down on certain types of link-sharing deals that many influencers have used to earn money on the side.

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