The Pay-for-play model is not just another concept being utilised by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to finance the build out of network infrastructure. Content marketers are now using this term to reflect a recent decision by major publishers in the U.S to publish content inside “facebook” walls. This decision came about when Facebook decided to make a play for the headlines by offering to host news in return for preferential treatment. Brands like The New York Times, National Geographic and BuzzFeed have already expressed interest with The New York Times being the closest to closing a deal. Will publishers stay inside the walls, or is Facebook paving its way to Internet dominance? These are some of the questions being raised by columnists given Facebook’s 1.4 billion users online.
Whichever way this will impact the publishing industry remains to be seen, but what is set for certain is that this will affect the Internet, as we know it: Neutral, Free and accessible. Not that the internet was or is ever a neutral space, but a decision of this kind, although dubbed by PR week to be the lifeline of an ailing industry, will constitute an indirect violation of freedom of expression and a direct attempt to perpetuate information authority through the Facebook platform. In other words, those who can afford it will have their news posted, shared and commented upon whilst those who cannot will be throttled down the pipeline under the pretext of providing a “seamless” experience.
I can understand a violation of the doctrine of network neutrally when it is in keeping with Internet safety, human rights and reasonably managed traffic. What is happening here is none of the above, just another attempt to increase the bottom line.