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Buzzfeed logo.png
"BuzzFeed" Buzzfeed
Type Media Company
Launch Date November 2006
Status Active
Product Line Social buzz
uzzFeed is an American media company that specializes in producing social news and entertainment on their website and corresponding social media profiles. It is based in New York City and founded in 2006. The company creates both written and visual content about a variety of topics. It provides content that is shareable entertainment and breaking news. Known for being concise and trendy, BuzzFeed has gained a lot of traction among college students and young adults. The site generates roughly 6 billion views each month.[1] BuzzFeed’s generates revenue from advertising, which takes shape in articles that match the format of BuzzFeed’s usual content. The company has dealt with a variety of ethical issues including plagiarism, political advertising, and article accuracy. In an attempt to alleviate concerns among readers, BuzzFeed published “The BuzzFeed Editorial Standards And Ethics Guide” to hold employees accountable.[2]


BuzzFeed was founded in November of 2006 by MIT graduate, Jonah Peretti, who also co founded The Huffington Post in 2005. Peretti founded BuzzFeed as an experimental lab that concentrates on “tracking viral content” and “making things people wanted to share.”The project first started as "BuzzBot" which messaged users links to popular content. However as the company began to grow, Peretti hired curators to help create content and embellish on popular content around the web. [3][4][5]


Eight years after its founding, BuzzFeed was able to raise $50 million from venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz. Since then, multiple big investors have made equity investments into BuzzFeed, such as NBCUniversal and General Atlantic. As of July 30, 2015, BuzzFeed is worth $1.5 billion.[6]


BuzzFeed produces articles and news daily and focuses on a variety of topics. The main headings (or main topics) include News, Videos, Quizzes, DIY, and More. Within the "More" section are 27 other headings which include Animals, Audio (information about podcasts, soundtracks, etc.), Big Stories, Books, Business, Buzz, Celebrity, Entertainment, Geeky (online fandoms and alike), Health, LGBT, Life, Music, Parents, Podcasts, Politics, Puzzles, Reader, Rewind (articles to remember the past), Science, Sports, Style, Tech, Travel, Weddings, Weekend (ideas for what to eat, make, or do over the weekend), and World.

The majority of the content that is created by Buzzfeed is sourced from the most trending topics on social media websites. Although Buzzfeed produces large amounts of content daily, 62% of their content is sourced from just 25 websites--the topmost being Tumblr, Instagram, Getty, and Youtube. [7]

BuzzFeed's LOL filter

There is also a separate navigation bar in the upper right hand corner of the desktop version of the homepage that allows for further filtering of articles. The options provided here are LOL, Win, OMG, Cute, Fail, WTF, and Trending.


BuzzFeed has their own staff of over 700 employees, but they still encourage the community to write articles, and so BuzzFeed Community was created. This means that anybody who creates a BuzzFeed account can create their own content and quizzes to publish to the site and share with their friends. Prompts to do so can be seen under the More heading of the main topics navigation bar with a teal button suggesting the user, "Make a Post!" as well as the icon of a person next to the search bar which encourages creating an account. BuzzFeed uses a ranking system ("Cat Power") to determine how popular a user is among the Community. Cat Power increases as a contributor becomes more and more popular. Users can create a BuzzFeed account either using their Facebook account or creating a username and password with a valid email. Once they sign up, they will be able to post content under the community category. Users can post text, images, videos, or a mix of everything. On the BuzzFeed community front page, the most popular articles are shown. However, throughout the entire site of BuzzFeed, there are editors who decide which articles get posted to the homepage and promoted. [8]


BuzzFeed creates multiple different video channels on both YouTube and Facebook. There is a general BuzzFeedVideo YouTube channel, but there are also multiple other channels categorized by color and their content divided by mood. The full list of these accounts is:

  • BuzzFeedYellow (fun and happy content)
  • BuzzFeedViolet (good, slightly awkward videos)
  • BuzzFeedBlue (bite size knowledge for a big world)
  • BuzzFeedCentral (features, news, documentation)
  • BuzzFeedPop (pop culture content)
  • After Party (a fun, miscellaneous account)
  • BuzzFeedCeleb (short celebrity interviews)
  • CNNBuzzFeed (a partnership account condensing CNN videos)
Tasty: By BuzzFeed Video

BuzzFeed also has several Facebook accounts, including BuzzFeed Food, BuzzFeed Video, BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed Quiz, BuzzFeed DIY, BuzzFeed Health, BuzzFeed Books, as well as pages for the rest of the topics covered in BuzzFeed's main headings on their site and pages for the various colors in the YouTube pages. They also have several spinoff accounts, such as Tasty or Proper Tasty (both recipe accounts), or Nifty for DIY crafts. Most of these accounts are mainly quick, 15 second videos to show an interesting procedure or recipe for users.

Video Mobile Application

On February 23, 2016, BuzzFeed launched an all-video mobile application. This allows users to download a mobile application that contains only BuzzFeed videos. This application is very easy to use and provides a “super simple experience.” The mobile application has two sections: one which contains trending videos and another for browsing through other videos. The trending videos and independent and individual videos. In the other section, users can browse and subscribe to specific channels. If a user is subscribed to a channel, they will get a push notification whenever a new video or episode is uploaded. Instead of using YouTube or Facebook for their videos, BuzzFeed is using its own native video player. This gives them more control over how videos are used and delivered to the user. For example, BuzzFeed has an auto-play feature where videos continue to play. That would be difficult when using an embedded player or an existing video system. The video mobile application does not currently contain every video that BuzzFeed has ever created. It includes a big portion of their video catalog and in the future will include every new video. The BuzzFeed Video mobile application is currently available for iOS and Android. [9]


BuzzFeed offers to send newsletters to readers for the various subjects they are interested in. The newsletters are offered for the subjects of BuzzFeed Today (users receive this daily), Animals (3x a week), DIY (3x a week), Dude A Day (5x a week), Health & Beauty (2x a week), Sunday Features (once a week), BuzzFeed News (5x a week), Books (2x a week), Dog A Day (daily), Food (2x a week), Parents (2x a week), and This Week In Cats (once a week)3. These newsletters are helpful for those who do not have time to browse their favorite subjects, so BuzzFeed will send them a concise newsletter with the top articles of those subjects.

BuzzFeed generates revenue from advertisement through their site. Advertisers create their own posts related to their product or company, and BuzzFeed makes money from these advertisers. This is called native advertising because the posts look similar to BuzzFeed's typical content[10]. BuzzFeed provides help for brands and agencies to advertise on their site. An in-house creative team works with advertisers to help create custom social posts to share on BuzzFeed. The content varies depending on the advertiser but all content from advertisers are embedded into BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed works with the advertisers to help find the right audience and place the content on BuzzFeed accordingly. BuzzFeed has also partnered with companies to create videos with their company name on it. For example, BuzzFeed create a video called ‘GE’s “Are you A Visual Thinker?” BuzzFeed advertising has proven to be successful because they are integrated very naturally into the original BuzzFeed content. BuzzFeed has found that click-through rates for sponsored content on their site is 10x the industry standard for banner ads. These story units can be found on every category of BuzzFeed.[11]

Ethical Concerns

In January of 2015 Buzzfeed posted an article titled The Buzzfeed Editorial Standards and Ethics Guide, written by the executive editor of Buzzfeed. Its aim is to keep writers, editors and reporters accountable to their readers. This in depth article was divided into four sections: 1) Sourcing, 2) Corrections, Updates, Deletions and Errors, 3) Legal and Ethics, 4) The Editorial and Business Relationship. This article is to serve as a guide not an FAQ section of the website. It is a place for contributors to reference what they are doing prior to publishing something on the site. Buzzfeed has created a large and loyal following through contributors adhering to these standards.


Since BuzzFeed conglomerates and generates information already found on the Internet, there has been a huge discussion on whether the content uploaded by BuzzFeed is considered plagiarism. In the summer of 2014, BuzzFeed fired their politics reporter Benny Johnson who was accused of plagiarism. BuzzFeed’s recent statement on ethics does not define plagiarism as specific to new media or whether or not the same standards apply to old school journalism, but rather is particular to computer use. BuzzFeed takes previously created content from the Internet and creates photos, videos, and .gifs with funny entertaining captions that summarizes different topics. This content can come from a number of different websites and sources. One of the most popular sources is Tumblr. BuzzFeed writers will create entire posts that are just a short commentary on a list of different Tumbr posts. This seems to be original content, since the commentary is added, but it is widely just reusing posts that have already been written elsewhere on the Internet.

Political Advertising

Buzzfeed has ventured into presenting native ads for politicians. Native advertising is also known as “paid posts,” where the company is getting paid for the amount of consumers they have reached for a particular article. This raises questions of legality, since many consumers do not realize that they are looking at an ad as they peruse the content. [12]

Accuracy of Articles

There have been numerous occasions when one of the "viral videos" or articles that BuzzFeed writes about have been hoaxes. In response, BuzzFeed revises and edits these articles. As they've grown as a company, BuzzFeed has recently decided that catching these errors after the fact is no longer acceptable and has made a point to do more fact-checking.[13]However, it is still possible for errors to slip through the cracks. BuzzFeed posts political articles occasionally, but especially around election season. If any of these are written as political opinion, it is possible that opinion could be perceived as fact, thus losing credibility.


The format of BuzzFeed's site and articles encourages the consumption of small parcels of information in listed form. This has contributed to the TLDR generation. TLDR stands for 'Too long Didn't Read'. It is the idea that people are more willing to take in short, summarized information rather than read extended, in-depth stories. BuzzFeed articles seem to target Millennials through their short list-based articles filled with GIFs, Memes, and videos in place of pieces of text. As this style of "writing" continues, there could be an effect on our reading and writing levels. It is possible that the next generation will need to be spoon fed in terms of content and information. People can no longer focus on large pieces of text, instead turning to things like BuzzFeed listicles to get information in small, bite-sized pieces. [14] It is truly concerning in some ways, but it in others it could just be the reality of how our society is evolving.

Trump Russian Dossier Release

On January 10, 2017, Buzzfeed published an unverified and unsubstantiated dossier containing explosive and revealing allegations about the Trump campaign's ties to Russian officials. [15] The dossier, which was compiled by a British spy, alleged that Trump campaign officials had been meeting with Russians for months, and that the Russian government had sexually lascivious blackmail on Trump. The document had been passed around government and journalistic circles for months, but had never been published, due to the unverified nature of the claims. Even President Obama and Trump himself had seen the document before it was published in its entirety by Buzzfeed.

Journalistic ethics generally dictate that facts have to be verified by independent sources before they can be published. When Buzzfeed published the dossier, they ignored the ethical responsibility that was keeping other news organizations from doing the same. Ben Smith, the Editor-in-Chief of Buzzfeed, cited the fact that every relevant party (the media, the government, etc.) had access to the document, but the public did not. "When in doubt, publish," he said. [16]

Buzzfeed fell under harsh criticism from both the Trump administration and other news outlets for breaking established rules of online journalism.[17] Margaret Sullivan of the Washington post said that Buzzfeed was "plunging down a slippery ethical slope from which there is no return." Trump himself called Buzzfeed a "failing pile of garbage."

Other news outlets were not so critical. The release of the documents led to a fierce debate about the role of journalists in 2017, and whether or not they had a duty to pass on any information they had in the name of democratizing access, or whether they should serve as the gatekeepers of information for an entire society.

Mason argues that there are four main ethical issues of the information age: Accuracy, Property, Accessibility, and Privacy.[18] It seems as though here, Accessibility is being increased, but perhaps in the name of Accuracy. Different news outlets and media companies value different things, and while Buzzfeed may value democratization and the revamping of journalistic ethics for the internet age, other, more traditional outlets value thorough research and verification.


  1. "About Buzzfeed”. BuzzFeed. Retrieved 14 March, 2016, from
  2. Hilton, S. (2015). "The BuzzFeed Editorial Standards And Ethics Guide”. BuzzFeed. Retrieved 14 March, 2016, from
  3. "Buzzfeed" Wikipedia
  4. ”The BuzzFeed Team”. BuzzFeed
  6. Kosoff, Maya. "NBC is investing $250 million in BuzzFeed." 30 July 2015. Retrieved on 14 March 2016.
  7. Where Does Buzzfeed Source Its Content From?
  8. BuzzFeed How To Use It
  9. BuzzFeed Video Mobile Application
  10. Weinberger, Matt. "BuzzFeed pays Facebook millions of dollars to promote its clients' ads." 12 August 2015. Retrieved on 14 March 2016.
  11. BuzzFeed Advertising
  12. Warren, James. "BuzzFeed enters potentially lucrative, ethically tricky world of native political ads." 12 October 2015. Retrieved on 23 April 2016
  13. Fisher, Marc. [1] "Who cares if it's true?"
  14. Is Google Making Us Stupid?
  15. Besinger, Kim. These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia Buzzfeed News. Retrieved April 23 2017.
  17. Sullivan, Margaret. How BuzzFeed crossed the line in publishing salacious ‘dossier’ on Trump. The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  18. Mason, Richard O. “Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age.” MIS Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, 1986, pp. 5–12.,