World of Buzz has been making the news for all the wrong reasons recently, with several allegations regarding workplace practices levelled at them by former employees of the social news website. First, articles from WOB were banned from the Malaysia subreddit after moderators found the site conducting “dodgy stuff” on the subreddit—including planting articles and creating fake accounts to “push positive opinions”.
Michelle Tan, one of the co-founders of WOB, reached out to the aforementioned moderators to apologise over the issue, with an internal investigation apparently underway. However, the situation really exploded once a purported former intern of the company shared a long post on the sub to “spill the tea” on World of Buzz.
Meanwhile, an account claiming to be owned by the former Content Lead and Writer for World of Buzz replied to the original announcement post, criticising the company for its “unethical” tactics. A response to his post by an account claiming to be from Michelle Tan, one of WOB’s co-founders, argued that he was trying to “spread fake rumours”.
Both posts’ criticism centre around the allegedly unethical journalistic practices of WOB—referring to the platform’s content as “copypasta” and “clickbait-worthy”. Workplace culture was also criticised by the posts, while the lack of legitimate sourcing for “news” articles was highlighted as well.
The official response
Chris Khristie and Michelle Tan, co-founders of World of Buzz, have now issued a response via a four-minute-long video on the platform’s YouTube channel. Referring to the allegations on the company’s workplace culture, Michelle says that they have always had their employees’ “best interests” at heart, while an open door policy means that they are open to feedback. Compensation for holidays and weekend work are given, Michelle argues, and staff are treated “like family”.
In response to accusations over the company’s journalistic ethics, Chris talks about the startup nature of the platform, and how they have been focusing on “rapid growth”, although “there may be certain occasions where we overlook certain things”. The co-founder goes on to say that they are in the process of learning, and steps will be taken to ensure that there are “proper procedures” to be followed, while maintaining the growth of WOB.
“In this fast-paced digital industry, a lot of companies are actually under heavy pressure to quickly churn out articles, and it’s the same for us. Even so, we’ve never tried to jeopardise ourselves by having anyone at all to produce fake news.”Michelle Tan, World of Buzz co-founder
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that World of Buzz has come under fire for their supposed journalistic ethics. Back in April, an investigative journalist and producer at R.AGE, Ian Yee, shared a post (this time, on Facebook) detailing how World of Buzz had “stolen” their content. The video was then removed, and the producer of the offending WOB video reached out with an apology to R.AGE.