That was actually the original idea behind Buzzfeed — it would help brands create viral content which would then spread across the web. And then, somehow, buzzfeed.com became a destination site in its own right, which can and will make a lot of money by hosting and selling advertising. The old models still work. But the new, more distributed models are I think much more powerful. They’re great for brands, which just want to reach consumers directly, whatever the best way of doing that might be. But for content creators like Rupert Murdoch, they’re much scarier. Because when something goes viral, you don’t own it any more — it belongs to everyone, and no one.

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Felix Salmon is an Audit contributor. He's also the finance blogger for Reuters; this post can also be found at Reuters.com.