Having weathered an incessant tide of negative headlines Facebook is seeking to buy its way to redemption through a branded content play alongside The Daily Telegraph which will carry a series of positive sponsored stories about the social network.
The broadsheet will carry dozens of chest thumping articles defending Facebook’s stance on thorny subjects ranging from terrorism to hate speech and fake news, circumventing an often-hostile media to present its message to readers directly.
Over the past month alone the Telegraph has published no less than 26 stories as part of Facebook’s UK marketing campaign which seeks to allay public fears by putting a positive spin on hot button issues.
Announcing the tie-up the paper wrote: “Fake news, cyberbullying, artificial intelligence – it seems like life in the internet age can be a scary place. That’s why Telegraph Spark and Facebook have teamed up to show how Facebook and other social media platforms are harnessing the power of the internet to protect your personal data.”
Carole Cadwalladr, a writer for The Guardian and The Observer, was among those tweeting her disdain for the initiative:
Oh for God's sake. Shame on Facebook. Shame on Telegraph. Enough of this whole new global spin operation. Come to Britain. Answer our MPs' questions. Or get off our lawn. https://t.co/EdsbfWzBFy
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) April 3, 2019
Julia Carrie Wong, senior technology reporter at the Guardian US, also criticised the ‘batshit’ pairing in an incredulous tweet:
This is the most batshit absurd sponcon I have ever seen: Facebook is sponsoring the Telegraph to pay the anarcho-capitalist author of "Rape Culture Hysteria" to write about crypto-anarchism!?!?!?!? h/t @robaepricehttps://t.co/do5EePKt0Upic.twitter.com/lrJTWHTAZp
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) April 3, 2019
Paid partnerships are of course nothing new with the tech giant previously authoring a number of articles in the Guardian – albeit focused on less politically sensitive issues.
Commenting on the Telegraph deal, a Facebook spokesperson said: “This is a part of our larger marketing efforts in the UK with the goal of educating and driving awareness of our local investments, initiatives, and partnerships here in the UK that have a positive impact on people’s lives.
"As part of this campaign, we’ve partnered with the Telegraph and there will be some profiles of London-based employees working on some of the toughest issues to keep our platform safe, as well as articles to educate people on topics like how to spot fake news and how to adjust their privacy settings.”