Facebook holds user eyes hostage

Facebook holds user eyes hostage

Facebook has begun trialling a new, secondary feed exclusively for pages called Explore – meanwhile removing all content from liked pages from users’ traditional news feed, which is having an unprecedented impact on publishers’ reach and traffic from the site.

The Explore feed will house content from users’ “liked” pages on celebrities, brands and news publishers, while the Newsfeed will be rebranded as content solely from friends and sponsored posts.

Product testing is currently taking place in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka.

Facebook Explore

Filip Struhárik, editor on Slovakian publication Denník N, said in a Medium post that the changes have already had a significant impact on traffic.

“Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. Reach of several asked Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.

“Sixty biggest Slovak media pages have four times fewer interactions (likes, comments, shares) since the test. It looks like the effect in Guatemala and Cambodia is the same,” he said.

This view was corroborated by Dina Fernandez, a journalist from Guatemalan news site Soy 502, who told NiemanLab that traffic from Facebook had fallen 66 per cent.

“In the old feed, there were problems, but the news was there. Right now, it’s becoming more complicated. Facebook is trying to get the news out of people’s way. For me, it seems obvious it’s a way for them to grow new revenue streams.

“It’s important politically how this is going to play out. People need to be informed,” Ms Fernandez said.

The Australian Explore feed, which is currently available world-wide, has been live since the start of the year but is currently a “lite” version, only aggregating pages users may be interested in. There is no current plan to extend service past the six trial countries.

A Facebook spokesperson explained the reasoning behind the new product. “We are beginning to roll out a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them.

“We’ve heard from people that they want an easy way to explore relevant content from Pages they haven’t connected with yet.”