Facebook’s Negative Relationship With Black Media

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Written by Dana Sanchez

 

Facebook has been releasing diversity reports since 2014, vowing to build a company that reflects the global community it serves — or at least be transparent in its efforts to do so.

Unfortunately, those reports show that, for Black Americans, the needle has barely moved when it comes to diversity in the Facebook workforce.

The percentage of Black Facebook employees in the U.S. grew from 2 percent to 3 percent in the five years leading up to June 30, 2018. Meanwhile, the U.S. population is fast approaching minority-majority status.

Facebook’s diversity disconnect is reflected in its negative relationship with Black media.

Three digital media entrepreneurs talked about the dangers of building your entire business on platforms you don’t control. Angelica Nwandu, Devin Johnson and Detavio Samuels spoke to Jamarlin Martin, a digital media entrepreneur and host of the GHOGH podcast.

“We spent millions of dollars on Facebook but they wouldn’t support us at an account-executive level.” — Jamarlin Martin

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The Shade Room aka TSR is a media company, founded by Angelica Nwandu in March 2014. Photo: Anita Sanikop

 

Angelica Nwandu is the founder and CEO of The Shade Room, a multi-million dollar media platform built on Instagram. It markets itself as the No. 1 Black-owned independent media company covering entertainment and celebrity news, with 4.245 million Facebook likes.

The Shade Room was shut down several times by Facebook due to complaints, and Nwandu thought she was done. The first time it happened, she said she lost 500,000 members. Having to rebuild from scratch, she came back stronger, but still, it was traumatic.

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Devin Johnson – President – UNINTERRUPTED Photo: Anita Sanikop

 

Devin Johnson is the president of Uninterrupted, a digital sports programming network with videos from the athletes’ perspective, original series, podcasts and documentaries.

“As a publisher, I’m always trying to build my customer database,” Johnson said during a GHOGH podcast. “One of the first decisions I needed to make was what was I going to build a website (on) because we’re in a world of distributed media. People were living on IG, Facebook, Twitter, and that was the business. They didn’t need a website. Problem is … that your entire business is built on platforms you don’t control and if you aren’t establishing one-to-one relationships with customers, what is your long-term effect? I would just always be nervous about being a publisher that doesn’t own or have a relationship with any of my customers. That to me is a red flag.”

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Detavio is one of corporate America’s youngest executives and has helped some of the world’s biggest companies (including Walmart, Chrysler LLC, NBA and Johnson & Johnson) build their brands and connect to consumers.President of iONE Digital, the company’s digital media division, which operates sites like CassiusLife.com, GlobalGrind.com, HelloBeautiful.com, NewsOne.com, Bossip.com, MadameNoire.com and HipHopWired.com. Photo: Anita Sanikop

 

Detavio Samuels is the president of Interactive One, the largest independent digital media platform focused on urban culture. Samuels leads a $30-million digital media business that in 2017 acquired Bossip, Madamenoire, and HiphopWired.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his eyes on the prize and the revenue, Samuels said on the GHOGH podcast. “He’s not necessarily really about building the most inclusive, fair system for their audience and for the people who they want to interact with their audiences.”

Maybe that was a smart model five, six years ago, Samuels said.

“I think for the last two or three years, if you were in a brand who watched your traffic die because of the Facebook algorithm and didn’t decide that it was imperative that you owned your own audience, if you didn’t make that move in the last two or three years, you’re kind of in trouble.

Hear more of what digital media entrepreneurs are doing about Facebook’s negative relationship with Black media on the GHOGH podcast.