It’s been a rocky year in Facebook and publisher relations, if you’re failing it’s probably your fault

Speaking at a panel at South by Southwest, Facebook’s head of news products, Alex Hardiman, had some strong words for critics who say the company’s recent News Feed algorithm change is hurting publishers.

In response to a question about digital publisher Little Things, whose CEO blamed Facebook’s News Feed algorithm after the company shut down, Hardiman said “there’s a reason certain publishers don’t do well on Facebook.”

“I don’t think that that’s true. I think that when we look at publishers who are not doing well, most likely, it’s because they are abusing the system in some way. Their content might be sensationalist, it could be misleading, it could be triggering ad farm warnings. There’s a reason for certain publishers that they don’t do well on Facebook.”

In other words: it’s not us, it’s your bad content.

This came after Hardiman also acknowledged that Facebook’s previous News Feed algorithm reinforced much of the behavior it’s now trying to combat,…

“I think we need each other. We need them for the traffic; they need us for the content,” he told the Wall Street Journal at the time. However, Facebook has recently become pretty brutal when it comes to publisher complaints.

“If you are a publisher who feels like Facebook is not good for your business, you shouldn’t be on Facebook,” company executive Campbell Brown said in February during an onstage grilling at Recode’s Code Media conference.

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