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Facebook removes free content from the News Feed (and FB's official response)

Facebook is testing a new news feed in 6 countries: excluding all free content on Facebook pages. Website visits collapse.

Facebook change the news feed and takes away all the free content published by Facebook pages. This is a test on the new structure of the news feed: an important change that moves non-promoted posts out of the news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers and all those who rely on the social network for their audience and traffic to their websites.

Facebook news feed: via the free content of the FB pages

A new experimentation system in six countries, including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka, sees almost all the non-promoted posts moved to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed entirely focused on original content from friends and advertisements.

With the new Facebook news feed collapses the engagement for Facebook pages

The change saw the users' engagement with the Facebook pages falling ruinously, from 60% to 80%. If implemented more widely, such a change would destroy many of the smaller publishers, in addition to the larger ones that rely heavily on social media referrals for visitor acquisition.

Removing the contents of the pages from the news feed has already proven damaging

According to Filip Struhrik, journalist of the Slovak newspaper Dennik N, the change has led to a decline in interactions in the country's media scenario. "The pages are seeing dramatic falls in organic reach," Struhrik said. "The reach of some Facebook pages dropped Thursday and Friday for two thirds compared to the previous days."

In one night the most influential pages without their contents in news feeds

Over the course of a single night, from Wednesday to Thursday, a vast cross section of the most influential 60 pages of Facebook in Slovakia has seen two thirds to three quarters of their reach disappear, according to statistics provided by the CrowdTangle service owned by Facebook. For larger sites, which have several possible ways of communicating with their readers, the change has not had a huge effect, the story is very different for those who rely on social media.

New News feed facebook: small sites the most damaged

The smaller sites are reporting a striking loss of Facebook traffic and engagement, said Struhrik talking to the Guardian. "Difficult to say now how much impact it will be. The problems have also affected the Buzzfeed type sites, which depend more on social media traffic ".

Waiting for other data on the impact of the Facebook news feed without a fee

Struhrik pointed out that the test was started only Thursday and therefore still too early to draw precise conclusions, "but if the scope is radically lower, interactions are diminished and your site has no different traffic sources, it will hurt you".

Facebook's response to the controversy in the News feed without page posts

In a statement, Facebook stated: "With all the possible stories in the feed of each person, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most significant. Users have told us that they want an easier way to view the posts of friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a space dedicated to the posts of friends and family and another as a space dedicated to Pages posts ”.

Changing the Facebook news feed has no impact on the paid promoted posts

It should be noted that the change does not seem to affect the ads and posts promoted: those still appear on the normal news feed, as well as the posts of the people you follow or friends. But the change affects the so-called "native" content, such as Facebook videos, if they are published from a page and not shared through paid promotion.

A move designed to increase revenues from Facebook pages?

Matti Littunen, senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the move was the classic Facebook script: first give a large organic reach to a type of content, then charge for achieving engagement, then make people pay to reach anyone.

Publishers backtrack on facebook pages

Littunen said that many premium publishers have already realized the trend and taken a step back from relying too heavily on social media for their users. But new media companies, who rely on social media to generate traffic and income, they would be hurt by the massive application of this change, perhaps even fatally. "The most serious blows would be those blamed on sites like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, which create adapted and targeted content to the fullest extent."

The new Facebook news feed also penalized videos

Equally, publishers who have thrown themselves on video content could be heavily impacted, says Littunen; The type of video that is getting the best results is the low value one that has been adapted enough and that was often taken from elsewhere and repackaged for Facebook, he said.

For Struhrik there is one last catch: he does not expect the test to be a great success. News feeds, no news, just friends and sponsored content: people will find out how boring their friends are, he said.

Update

The official Facebook response on the news feed tests

Facebook wanted to respond officially, the official response was reported to us by Veronica Gentili, a communication expert on Facebook

To clarify recent tests

by Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed Facebook

There have been several articles on a test we are performing in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia. Some have interpreted this test as the future development that we intend to distribute globally. At the moment there is no plan for the further dissemination of this test.

We always listen to our community to understand how we could improve the news feed. People tell us that they want an easier way to see messages from friends and family. We are testing some solutions to create a dedicated space to allow people to keep in touch with their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explore, with page posts.

The objective of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate areas for personal and public content. We will listen to what people are saying about the experience to see if it is an idea that is worth developing further. There is no current plan to spread this test beyond these countries or to charge Facebook pages for their distribution in the News Feed or in Explore. Unfortunately, some have misinterpreted this way – but it was not our intention.

It is also important to know the test in progress in these six countries other than the version of Explore that has been made available to most people. Outside these countries, explore a complementary feed of articles, videos and popular photos customized for each person based on content that could be interesting. We have heard from directly from people who want an easy way to discover relevant content from pages with which they are not yet connected. While Explore includes content from relevant pages, messages from pages that people love or follow will continue to be displayed in Feed News.

As with all the tests we have performed, we can learn new things that can lead to additional tests in the coming months so we can understand what works best for people and publishers.

New News Feed Facebook

Facebook tests a new news feed from which it eliminates the non-promoted contents of the Facebook page