By Keith J. Kelly
FacebookZoo — a new, anti-Facebook blogging site — went live on Tuesday despite threats from Facebook’s legal team.
The site is pitching itself as a haven for small and midsize publishers who are looking to vent about Facebook algorithm changes that slashed their customer and ad bases earlier this year.
Among the first contributors is Boyce Watkins, founder of Black Business School, who said he was probably pulling in $250,000 a year from his Facebook page. It had attracted 500,000 “likes” when he was suddenly suspended.
“They’re bullies,” Watkins said. “We could not even get anyone on the phone to find out why we were suspended.”
Mark Zuckerberg’s legal team tried to kill FacebookZoo in its crib earlier this year after The Maven, a tech platform for niche publishers that’s backing the site, trademarked the name while the site was still in beta mode.
“Your unauthorized use of the Facebook name is likely to cause confusion as to whether you or your company’s activities are authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by Facebook when, in fact, they are not,” someone identified only as “Ethel, Facebook legal team” warned in a letter to The Maven in May.
“To avoid consumer confusion and harm to the Facebook brand, we must insist that you stop using the name and domain facebookzoo.com and disable any site available at that address,” Ethel warned.
Maven CEO Jim Heckman has thumbed his nose at the warnings, claiming there’s no chance of marketplace confusion because “FacebookZoo is a site that is obviously criticizing Facebook.”
Facebook claims that its algorithm change, which favored friends and family over media sites, was a way to get back to its roots as a site that connected people.
“Publishers would not have moved their audiences over to Facebook in the first place if they knew what was in store,” Heckman said.
“I feel they baited and switched us,” said Holly Homer, whose Quirky Momma page on Facebook had attracted 3.3 million followers and was helping her earn
$50,000 to $60,000 a month before the algorithm change cut it to virtually nothing.
“They told us to build a community, and then when we did they told us it wasn’t the community they wanted,” Homer said.
Now the publishers are often being charged for access to the very viewers they attracted to Facebook in the first place, Heckman said.
Alicé Anil, a blogger for Know Bulls–t!, says on one FacebookZoo video, “The thing is, we’re all slaves at the end of the day, right? To Facebook, to YouTube. The moment that they decide to change their algorithm, we are f–ked.”
Facebook found itself in a new PR firestorm earlier this week as a top executive reportedly told a group of digital publishers that founder Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about news publishers and that the social media giant would let them die if they didn’t cooperate with the company.
“I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice,” Campbell Brown, global head of news partnerships at Facebook, was quoted as stating during a recent powwow with publishers. The report originally appeared in The Australian and was quickly picked up by other outlets around the globe.
Facebook has insisted the remarks were taken out of context and does not reflect its corporate stance.
“These quotes are simply not accurate and don’t reflect the discussion we had in the meeting,” Brown said in a statement.