Insider, Technology

Facebook’s reach-killing test in Slovakia is a big warning to all media

Media outlets in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia are going through a rough week – and...

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Media outlets in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia are going through a rough week – and they have nobody but Facebook to blame for the headache.

A new Facebook news feed experiment is purportedly causing a huge decrease in organic traffic to news outlets in the aforementioned countries. Last Thursday, the social media giant brought its Explore Feed feature to desktop, but it turns out it didn’t have the best impact on news sites, to put it lightly.

Outlets are reporting Facebook interactions (i.e. likes, comments, shares) have sunk nearly four times since the company updated the desktop version of its app to include the new Explore Feed – in addition to the standard Newsfeed.

The problem with the massive drop in traffic is that, now that both feeds are up and running, Facebook no longer shows posts from pages on your default Newsfeed – which is now strictly reserved for your friends’ posts and other sponsored ads.

Instead, users will have to navigate to the Explore feed for content from pages they’ve liked. Or alternatively, admins of such pages will have to pay to show up in the default Newsfeed.

The massive dip in organic reach has been documented in more detail by Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik. Some websites have registered a decrease of over 75 percent in traffic. Here are the stats:

Slovakian outlets don’t seem to be the only ones suffering from this, however.

News websites in the Cambodia and Guatemala seem to be taking a similar hit on numbers too, according to several Twitter users:

Facebook originally rolled out Explore Feed to its mobile app back in April, but the feature only made its way to the desktop version last week.

The main difference between the two alternatives is that unlike Newsfeed – which only shows you posts from friends’ as well as sponsored posts – the Explore Feed aims to serve content from pages you don’t follow but might be interested in.

A spokesperson for Facebook has since told Struhárik that the company has been toying around with separated feeds as part of a series of “regional test[s].” To the nuisance of affected media outlets though, the social media titan did not specify how long the experiments have been scheduled to run for.

But the writing is already on the wall: Facebook is slowly, but surely gearing up to milk the cow – and the pages that refuse to obey the new rules (read: to buckle down and pay up) will slowly, but surely take a knock.


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