Most commonly, Manjoo found, ideas for listicles first appear on social news site Reddit, or lesser aggregators.
BuzzFeed slapped together many of the same pictures, presented it as an original idea, and it went Avian-Flu-level-viral, ending up with more than seven million page views.
During the game of “Suck and Blow” the cast was unable to sustain the breath to make a real credit card pass from mouth to mouth; a prop card made of cardboard was substituted that still did not work. Holes were drilled into it to make it easier, and when this failed also, the whole cast’s lips were heavily coated in chapstick to force the card to stick.
But the site’s approach to all content as building blocks for viral lists puts it in an awkward position in relation to internet etiquette and journalistic ethics.
Then there’s 2010’s 38 Facts About Reborn Dolls, which basically just transforms the sentences of this 2008 Today.com article into a list, again with no credit.
“[BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti] started BuzzFeed as a tech company and a kind of a content laboratory, and initially had a heavy aggregation focus,” he wrote in an email.
BuzzFeed has, either knowingly or accidentally, capitalized on this by obscuring the origins of its lists—both facts taken from old-school journalistic sources, and ideas found among newfangled meme-creators.
The first picture in the list is a “picture of Chicago Christians who showed up at a gay pride parade to apologize for homophobia in the Church,” according to the caption.
But Marin refuses to say homosexuality is not a sin, and critics argue he’s disingenuously using the LGBT angle to boost his own profile.
BuzzFeed just hired Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner, one of the best reporters on LGBT issues in the country. Maybe he could do a story about it.