Opinion

7 Reasons Why BuzzFeed is the Cancer of the Internet

Buzzfeed headquarters in Los Angeles, California. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Buzzfeed headquarters in Los Angeles, California. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Every time I scroll down my newsfeed on Facebook – which is regrettably often these days – I end up seeing quite a few links to a site I am sure we are all familiar with: BuzzFeed.

Just the vile name makes me cringe with disgust and abhorrence. Although I started this article with the intention of retaining my journalistic integrity by being as fair and balanced as I humanly could, I soon realized that the task would be impossible given the fact that BuzzFeed’s existence is logically indefensible. Thus, I present to you the top seven reasons why BuzzFeed is “The Cancer of the Internet” in the highly satirical list-format that I myself so lovingly deplore. (Note: this list is in a completely arbitrary order.)

1. BuzzFeed hosts no (original) content.

Articles hosted on the site rarely feature anything more than lists rife with pictures and gifs shamelessly taken from every corner of the Internet, often times without proper attribution. The captions are, if anything, only slightly better than their corresponding images – usually, that is only because the captions are actually related to the original title. Based on the quality of some of the captions, I would guess that you do not really need any previous writing experience to contribute a piece of your own.

Moreover, these articles have no literary, journalistic or entertainment value at all. The topics in these articles range from vague generalizations that most of the population can relate to (“28 Things People Who Can’t Sleep Will Totally Understand”) to regurgitating the experience of niche groups (“30 Signs You Grew Up In Sacramento, CA”) to stupid quizzes (“What Kind of Pizza Slice Are You”). You would be hard pressed to squeeze a modicum of intelligent humor or amusement from the majority of the site’s so called “content.”

The way the site contributes nothing to society, while at the same time sucking away the life-blood of the rest of the Internet makes it little more than cancerous.

2. BuzzFeed abuses the click bait method.

Every time I find myself clicking on a BuzzFeed link, it turns out to be click bait trash. The sensationalist titles of the articles have little to nothing to do with the actual “content” and I end up having to waste my energy to click the “back” button on my browser every time I fall for the trap.

Furthermore, the effects of this glorified form of social engineering end up tarnishing the rest of the Internet. Click baiting chokes out traffic to sources that actually create real, substantive content, thus forcing other sources to rely on similarly sleazy tactics and lowering the quality of the content generated on the internet as a whole. Nowadays, you can even find reputable sources like Time and Slate attempting to remain relevant by sharing deceptive social media links.

3. BuzzFeed is glorified spam.

The way the links to useless BuzzFeed articles spread and get shared through the click baiting method is essentially spam.

4. BuzzFeed’s tags do not help categorize anything.

There is no way for any rational human being to figure out the vague differences between “lol,” “win,” “omg,” “cute,” “trashy,” “fail,” and “wtf.” For example: “28 Things People Who Can’t Sleep Will Totally Understand,” in my mind, should be categorized as “omg” or “wtf,” but in actuality it is under the “win” section. What the hell.

The ambiguous and confusing delineations between categories are yet another reflection of how little BuzzFeed actually cares about trying to create quality content for its users to enjoy.

5. The numbers BuzzFeed uses are arbitrary.

There is no reason why “25 Meals You Won’t Believe Someone Actually Ate” could not be 5 meals or 17 meals or even 83 meals. None at all. I cannot find a conceivable reason for why these arbitrary sets of whatever-the-author-decides-to-write-about are listed in the quantities that they are, and for that reason, I am led to believe that each author probably furiously Googles their topic until they exhaust their limited ability to use a search engine.

This phenomenon is also why I have decided to assign the random number of 7 to this article. The next two points will be lazily formulated and will seem unrelated to my original point, but will serve to propound my argument further as an example of BuzzFeed’s inherent mediocrity.

6. Reddit is better.

People who actually know how to use the Internet prefer Reddit. Also, Reddit does not constantly make Beyonce references on its quizzes.

7. My opinion is in a newspaper, so it must be true.

This is published in an official newspaper, thus my point must be truthful and correct.

Note 2: I do not mean to insult anyone who uses the site; again, I merely wish to point out BuzzFeed’s inherent mediocrity.

By THOMAS GUI
Staff Writer

30 replies »

  1. In response to #1: the point of BuzzFeed is to collect content from various sources and organise them into “listicles” to let us know what’s been “buzzing” on the internet. Hence “buzz feed”. Lots of content from Reddit make their way into more aesthetic looking listicles too. Original content is obviously not to be expected. Although some quizzes and other things are original.

  2. Sour grapes, anyone? How about trying to be just a little more bitter? You’re just mad because Buzzfeed is one of the most popular sites on the internet while yours is sophomoric & unimportant. I think it’s about time to update your 2005 looking site to 2014. Haters gonna hate, obviously!

    • You’re probably white, yet still use the ghetto euphemism, “Haters gonna hate.” First of all, grow up. Secondly, no, that’s all. Just grow up!

    • This is the official website of a high-school newspaper. That’s right, HIGH SCHOOL. Furthermore, if you going to lambaste a group of aspiring, amateur journalists based on the OPINION of SINGLE staff writer, I’d hate somewhere more appropriate. But then, haters gonna hate, obviously.

      • I feel so bad for those “aspiring journalists” that work for BuzzFeed. They probably came out of college, hoping to be the next Nelly Bly or Upton Sinclair, but then end up having to work at BuzzFeed and write articles like “12 Ways You Won’t Believe A Person, Place, or Thing Is A Noun”.

      • Even a high school newspaper article has better content than Buzzfeed? That’s sad. But then again, the people that work for Buzzfeed aren’t real journalists, so can you blame them?

    • “I’m just going to ignore all of your criticisms and say that you’re jealous of our success while singling in on the old aesthetic of your website (which means NOTHING) to further prove your point about how terrible we are.” -YOU

    • Why wouldn’t he be jealous, or mad? Buzzfeed gets a lot of people looking at it. Hell, people have had their content put on buzzfeed and no credit attributed to them, all the money for the views goes to Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has 0 journalistic integrity and is a site for idiots.

    • Inappropriate use of sophomoric, budd. Reddit is very mature and has a multitude of mature and serious articles circulating the front page not just, OMG WHAT DID YONCE JUST DO CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.

  3. Actually, I’ve read some incredible enlightening work on buzzfeed.

    Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500: http://www.buzzfeed.com/drewphilp/why-i-bought-a-house-in-detroit-for-500

    The Controversial Answer To America’s Heroin Surge: http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnknefel/the-controversial-answer-to-americas-heroin-surge

    And there are others.

    Under the superficiality of the more popularly shared posts (which I, at 25 years old, do happen to sometimes find amusing), there are some really insightful and meaningful ones. If you know where to look. To write off Buzzfeed because your friends are sharing what you apparently deem as superficial, unoriginal, meaningless crap, is ridiculous. As a journalism school graduate, I can say that you clearly have not done all your research, which you really should have done before so easily writing off this website.

    • My point has been proven: this lazily written article with a sensationalist headline has attracted way more attention than it should have, and that’s only because it closely emulates Buzzfeed’s similarly shoddy journalism. Sure there may be a few golden nuggets hidden on Buzzfeed, but there isn’t much.

  4. JS is correct. There are often good, quite long and meaningful articles posted on Buzzfeed.

    Many of the lists on Buzzfeed appeal to the natural human need to be part of a group or community with defining features. This is basic human nature, and while many of the lists are relatively banal, they often do make me kind of laugh and think “yeah I do that all the time!”

    The quizzes are obviously supposed to be stupid and funny. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they aren’t amusing. Nobone’s day needs to or even should be filled with taxing mental activities. Variety is good and a chance to relax and giggle at something stupid is a good thing.

    What does bother me about buzzfeed is that they send old articles back up to the top of the page too often. I would rather it be kept in a more chronological order.

  5. Noone’s* excuse me.

    And a couple other points:

    The numbers are probably just however many things the authors could come up with. There’s no reason for the articles to have a specific number, so they should just stuck to what (they, not you) find amusing.

    And about the classifications, come on, those are clearly meant to be funny. And almost anyone I know, from high schoolers, to HLS and LSE students, to my boss, could figure those out and would find them mildly amusing.j

    Disclaimer: I do not work for Buzzfeed or know anyone who has any connection to them.

  6. I was waiting for some problematisation re: the sensationalist, insensitive article title, but there was none. The author could have chosen a far more appropriate title that did not trivialise cancer for the sake of a (poorly researched) complaint about a pop culture website.

  7. Buzzfeed is THE cancer of the internet, or just A cancer of the internet? Just want to be certain, because I’m sure that the death of net neutrality will have a more cancerous effect on teh interwebz! 😉

  8. “lists rife with pictures and gifs shamelessly taken from every corner of the Internet”

    More like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram mostly, only a few are from anywhere else.

    On the other hand its serious journalism pieces are often really good – well-written (some of them anyway), generally quite well-researched and on important topics which readers seem to feel they become more enlightened about. These aren’t why millions of people flock to BuzzFeed, but once they’re there they may read one of these pieces where they wouldn’t have otherwise. Sometimes I suspect this is the whole, secret point of the website.

  9. I honestly believe that Buzzfeed is dumbing society down, ruining the way people communicate, making annoying people even more annoying, and giving young, naive, and really superficial writers a platform to flip journalism on it’s head. It’s disrespectful crap and whenever I see someone sharing a Buzzfeed article it’s ALWAYS a really dumb, superficial person.

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