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Jonah Peretti’s Vision for Buzzfeed May Be Marred By Pressure from Advertisers

Buzzfeed has been accused on several occasions of pulling articles that may offend advertisers

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti

Buzzfeed might not be the most reliable information source out there, but it is noted for its sassy, irreverent take on popular topics. However, in more than one case, Buzzfeed’s editorial integrity has been questioned after has pulled articles, most likely to avoid offending advertisers. CEO Jonah Peretti may have a strong creative vision that includes disrupting traditional entertainment with video options, but Buzzfeed may have some editors who are a overly eager to please advertisers, and this may turn off talented writers and visitors.

Recently, Buzzfeed’s beauty editor Arabelle Sicardi resigned over the decision to pull her article that criticized a Dove soap commercial that was basically saying every woman is gorgeous enough to walk through a “beauty” door, as condescending to women.  The article was taken off the site by editor in chief Ben Smith, but by the time he reconsidered and put it back on, Sicardi had handed in her resignation letter. Dove and parent company Unilever both advertise on Buzzfeed.

Smith admitted he was in error, “I blew it, ” Smith told the New York Post. “Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve asked editors–over their better judgment and without any respect to our standards or process–to delete recently published posts from the site.” When asked if Buzzfeed was caving to advertiser pressure, Smith said, “The answer is no.”

There was a similar complaint that a writer had an article poking fun at the game Monopoly pulled, and he claimed it was because editors feared Hasbro, which advertises with Buzzfeed and is the creator of Monopoly, might take offense.

A recent Pew Global Survey found that Buzzfeed was one of the least trusted sites out of a list of a dozen popular web destinations.


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