Facebook’s latest experiment could drown small publishers

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Credit: https://newsroom.fb.com/media-gallery/menlo-park-headquarters/facebook-headquarters-front-sign/

Small publishers relying on Facebook for traffic could soon be left with no option but to start looking elsewhere for audience. This is because the social media giant is testing a new system that will push non-promoted posts than the ladder and make them less visible to people—sort of shifting them to a secondary field. The test, according to The Guardian, is currently being carried out in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

The implication of this is that only content from Facebook partners [paid publishers and advertizers] will now be given priority attention. This could spell doom for small publishers with very lean purse who always rely on the social media giant for traffic to their websites.

According to the Guardian, the experiment has led to a drop in users’ engagement on Facebook from 60 percent to 80 percent. What this means is that a wider implementation of the new policy could deliver a jaw-breaking punch to the face of small publishers.

As would be expected, the new policy is already taking its toll on Facebook Pages in Slovakia. According to stats from Facebook-owned analytics service CrowdTangle per the Guardian, pages in that country saw two-thirds to three-quarters of their Facebook reach vanish.

It’s probably too soon to draw conclusion on a test that only kicked off last Thursday, but early signs are not anything to cheer about.

With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages,” a Facebook statement explained per the Guardian.

Still, this is only a test and could be suspended altogether before it sees the light of the day. To alley all fears about the possibility of rolling out the feature to a wider audience, Facebook added that: “We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”

In a closely related news, Facebook is once again putting the needs of its partners above all others by adding paywalls to Instant Articles. The social media giant is going ahead with plans to help publishers on the platform make some money from their works. Over the next couple of weeks, the social media behemoth will be testing subscription models in Instant Articles to support a small group of publish across Europe and the US. It’s a small test that will only be limited to Android devices; but could be expanded to cover more partners soon.

Facebooks said the subscription model is a part of its ongoing Journalism Project. The project, according to the company, is geared towards listening to news publishers across the globe in order “to better understand their needs and goals, and collaborating more closely on the development of new products from the beginning of the process.”


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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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