This is some sneaky shit on Facebook’s part.
After pondering it for a day, I think its audience wasn’t Teen Vogue but actually Congress. Not that anyone in Congress reads Teen Vogue, but Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg was all too happy to crow about this puff piece. I think Facebook was trying desperately to show Congress its serious about policing itself when in actuality it only cares about money.
I feel bad for Teen Vogue as the teen magazine has been running really good stories explaining cybersecurity. Of course, they also run stories telling teens about the joys of anal sex, so it’s a wash I guess. At any rate,any credibility Teen Vogue may have had is gone now. Hope the money was worth it.
Here’s the original story, captured by The Internet Archive’s magnificent Wayback Machine.
(Also, that’s the least clickbait-y headline EVER. Obviously it wasn’t meant for teens.)
An uncritical story in Teen Vogue about Facebook’s efforts to secure its social network ahead of the 2020 election caused bewilderment over contradictory messages about whether it was paid for by Facebook — before it just disappeared completely.
On Wednesday, Teen Vogue published “How Facebook Is Helping Ensure the Integrity of the 2020 Election.” It’s a 2,000-plus-word story comprising a series of interviews with various senior Facebook employees about how the Silicon Valley tech giant is working to avoid nefarious political activity in the US’s coming presidential election.
The positive tone of the piece, and lack of byline indicating who wrote it, led some on Twitter to speculate that it was a piece of sponsored content — that is, an article paid for and overseen by Facebook to promote itself.
This suspicion was seemingly confirmed when, some time after publishing, Teen Vogue appended a note to the top of the story, reading: “Editor’s note: This is sponsored editorial content.”
The note raised questions about editorial ethics — why wasn’t this disclosed from the start? — but the saga didn’t end there. Facebook instead denied that it was sponsored content, saying it was just a regular article, and the note disappeared from the top of the story again.