New system could destroy smaller publishers if implemented, after journalists report drop in organic reach but users will still see their friends posts
Facebook is testing a major change that would shift non-promoted posts out of its news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers relying on the social network for their audience.
A new system being trialled in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka sees almost all non-promoted posts shifted over to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed focused entirely on original content from friends, and adverts.
The change has seen users engagement with Facebook pages drop precipitously, with publications reporting a 60% to 80% fall. If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, as well as larger ones with an outsized reliance on social media referrals for visitors.
According to Filip Struhrik, a journalist at Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, the change resulted in a drop in interactions across the countrys media landscape. Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach, Struhrik said. The reach of several Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.
Overnight, from Wednesday to Thursday, a broad cross-section of the 60 largest Facebook pages in Slovakia saw two-thirds to three-quarters of their Facebook reach disappear, according to stats from Facebook-owned analytics service CrowdTangle. For larger sites, with a number of different ways to communicate with their readers, that hasnt had a huge effect on their bottom line, but its a different story for those with a reliance on social media.