1. Analysis
August 5, 2022

CEO of Patreon Jack Conte also isn’t happy with Meta’s AI-heavy feeds, obviously

The CEO of Patreon is unsurprisingly unimpressed with Meta's attempts to imitate TikTok

By Kurt Robson

The founder and CEO of Patreon has predictably joined in on bashing Meta’s mission to make Facebook and Instagram more algorithmic and TikTok-like.  

Jack Conte, a musician turned entrepreneur, launched his creator-focused company with co-founder Samuel Yam back in 2013.

Patreon, which he describes as “a kickstarter for people who release stuff on a regular basis”, allows content creators to monetise their brand from paying followers. Think of it as an OnlyFans but without the smut.

The aim is to give creators a regular income in an increasingly difficult and unreliable world of monetising content online.

So, it isn’t a surprise that Conte has joined the angry mob bashing Meta as they again showed their desire to imitate TikTok.

“We spent years investing in these platforms, building followers, building communities, and these changes remind us once again that these are not our followers, these are Facebook’s users,” Conte fumed to TechCrunch.

The Patreon CEO believes that focusing a platform on mitigating the relationship between a creator and subscriber is “essentially giving the platform the power and responsibility to decide what to send to whom, when”.

“And that’s what makes me angry as a creator,” he said, “because I’ve spent years, decades building communities on these platforms”.

As a musician, Conte has been uploading content to platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for over 12 years – so his rage could arguably be said to come from a genuine user rather than a CEO taking a cheeky cheap shot.

Instagram users lash out against Meta

Mr Patreon isn’t alone in his angst either, a wave of content creators and users have called out Instagram and Facebook for their “terrible” attempted changes.

A recent announcement by Instagram head Adam Mosseri declaring the platform was “no longer just a square photo-sharing app” was met with widespread criticism.

Instagram users, including Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, lashed out against the app.

“Today I noticed that my feed changed a lot and became totally like Tik-Tok, but with both photos and videos and I just hate it, it looks ridiculous, spam videos, ads, photos, everything is mixed up now,” replied one angered user.

Another slammed: “The thing is while trying oh so hard to be like Tok Tok you ruined what made Instagram good. So now you are nowhere as good as Tik Tok while also sucking at being Instagram.”

The relentless backlash led to Mosseri sheepishly going back on some of the changes, including its increase in algorithmically recommended posts.

Not going to last long

Conte doesn’t buy that this change is going to last long, saying: “I doubt that the roll-back is long term.

“I think they’re trying to figure out what to do [over] like, the next few weeks, next few months.”

Of course, it’s not just Meta that wants to try and be like TikTok, almost every social platform is taking tips from the video-sharing giant.

And why wouldn’t they? The app has managed to grab a whole generation’s attention and smashed its way to one billion monthly active users faster than any platform in history.

The Patreon founder continued: “I believe that Instagram is committed to algorithmic discovery, as is Meta.

“I believe they’re committed to essentially move from more of a follower priority model to an algorithmically curated model, because I believe that’s what they view as one of their core weaknesses against TikTok.”

But nothing can be perfect, and while TikTok is doing lots of things right, it still hasn’t managed to figure out how to properly compensate its creators.

Many ‘TikTokers’ have spoken out on how hard it is to make a decent bit of dough from their videos, with one creator claiming she made a measly “few cents on views” from the TikTok Creator Fund.

Tiana E, a TikTok creator with over 50,000 views, told Wired: “I ended up leaving the Creator Fund. I’d much rather my followers see my videos than make a few cents on views.”

Creators want their hard-earned subscribers and followers to see their videos and algorithm-first feeds like TikTok make that difficult.

Conte, predictably, humbly plugged Patreon as a way to navigate the constantly changing algorithms.

In an Instagram video, Conte advised: “Don’t put all of your eggs in any one company’s basket.

“I’m not going to stand up in front of creators and say you should bet everything in your careers on Patreon.

 “Of course, you shouldn’t. You should operate like a smart businessperson and spin up a Patreon, and sell some merch, and have some ad revenue and build an email list.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.