BuzzFeed’s fifth-highest traffic driver for quizzes is a teen from Michigan who said she’s just “struggling to get through college.”
Rachel McMahon, 19, told The Post that since 2017, she’s written about 692 quizzes for BuzzFeed — for free. Her quizzes have reportedly earned the company around $3.8 million, but all she ever got from them in return is some $30 Amazon gift cards and swag, like T-shirts and mugs.
“They’re taking advantage of your hobby,” McMahon said.
“Between April 2017 and December 2018, Rachel drove a conservative estimate of $3.8 million in revenue for BuzzFeed (or 1 percent of their entire 2018 revenue). For free,” tweeted Ryan Houlihan, a consultant at Input magazine, in response to a tweet from McMahon saying she feels bad if her free content contributed to the company’s recent layoffs.
McMahon — who once earned 851,000 views on a single quiz — said she knew she was making BuzzFeed money but never knew how much, adding that she made the quizzes in her high school yearbook class “for fun.”
“I don’t know — BuzzFeed might as well not have these people at all, because they would just pay their workers, but know they’re just going to rely on what sounds like the community members for free,” she said. “Like it was for fun for me, but now they’re firing all these hard workers who have put in so much time and effort, and they’ve helped us so much, and I just don’t think it’s really right for them to not have to pay like anyone especially when they’re this big company with all this money.”
McMahon added that she was “confused” when she first heard about the BuzzFeed layoffs. She later visited Matthew Perpetua’s FluxBlog and saw an entry on the blog about the mass firings that mentioned a 19-year-old girl from Michigan.
“‘That’s me — that’s not good,’” she recalled thinking. “When I read that, I just felt this weight on my shoulders, I was like, ‘I am probably a big reason for this.’”
McMahon said she hasn’t been able to get in touch with anyone at BuzzFeed and that she found it “weird” that no one from the company tried to reach out to her.
McMahon said if she could have a conversation with the CEO of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, she’d be nervous because “he’s a very powerful man,” but that she’d probably ask for “some form of payment or just something more for the community users who are doing this.”
McMahon, a sophomore at Grand Valley State University, said the most eye-opening aspect of the experience is learning how many job opportunities there are for her out there.
“I didn’t know how I could use my talents to do anything. There’s a lot more things out there that I can do than I first imagined, and it makes me feel a lot better,” she said.
A representative from BuzzFeed was not immediately available for comment.
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