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Taking the news on Facebook's news feed could hurt publishers

By John P. Mello Jr.

Oct 25, 2017 5:00 AM PT

A new feature recently tested by Facebook in a handful of countries could hurt publishers around the world if it were to deploy on a global scale.

The feature removes pages I like from users of their main news feed and bundles them into a separate space called "Explorer."

In the six countries where Facebook tested the idea, traffic to news agencies would have been
dropped from 60 to 80%.

"Publishers should be terrified by this," said John Carroll, professor of mass communication at Boston University.

"One of the risks that publishers run when they depend on Facebook traffic is that it can disappear as quickly as it happened," he said. at the E-Commerce Times.

No planned expansion

Facebook Monday attempted to calm the anxiety that he created in the publishing community.

"There have been a number of reports on a test that we are doing in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia," Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, wrote in a statement. article online. "Some have interpreted this test as a future product that we plan to offer on a global scale, but we do not plan for the moment to extend this test."

The test was launched in response to user feedback, he said.

"People tell us that they want an easier way to see messages from their friends and family. We are testing a dedicated area so people can follow their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explorer, with messages of pages, "explained Mosseri.

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"We will hear what people are saying from the experience to understand if this is an idea that is worth pursuing," he noted. "There is currently no plan to expand these activities beyond these test countries or to load pages on Facebook to pay for all of their distribution in News Feed or Explore."

Hard to ignore a billion users

Despite assurances from Facebook, publishers have reason to worry.

Back in 2012, The Guardian The Washington Post Yahoo, Digg, and other media launched the Social Reader, a Facebook application designed to help users share news with their friends and family.

In the beginning, the application generated traffic to publishers' sites, but problems quickly arose. Users objected when articles they read on the sites were published in their news feeds without their permission. In addition, Facebook drew criticism for changing the way items appeared in feeds. The application has had a short life.

Facebook snapshots, recently taken from the Messenger app, have been hit by the same fate. This media-centric initiative did not get the support of players like The Guardian Forbes Hearst, The New York Times Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal ESPN, CBS News, NPR, Financial Times and Vice News due to monetization issues with the platform and traffic reports.

"There are times when Facebook prefers news content, and there are times when they get away from it," says Dan Kennedy, an associate professor of journalism at
Northeast University.

"Anyone who becomes too dependent on Facebook traffic runs a real risk, but it's hard to stay away from a billion and a half active users a month", a- he told the E-Commerce Times.

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The concern to give too much power to Facebook has led some publishers to look for other ways to generate traffic.

"In the past two years, e-mail newsletters have returned," Kennedy said.

"Many publishers say," It's something we can control, and that does not depend on Facebook. "Unfortunately, the way they drive a lot of subscribers to these newsletters information goes through people who meet them on Facebook, "he said.

No desire to hunt

The significant impact of removing the "I love" pages from a user's main news feed demonstrates the importance of this feed.

"Most people wait for something to appear in their news feed, which occupies most of their attention," said Mark Marino, director of
The study lab on the humanities and critical codes of the University of Southern California.

"If it's not there, they will not go in search of new news feeds," he told the E-Commerce Times.

What gives power to social media is that they are mingled with the information of their friends and family, said Vincent Raynauld, an assistant professor in the department of communication studies at
Emerson College.

"The fact that the social is soaked with news makes the news more accessible and more digestible I'm not sure that people would go into a separate environment for the news," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"The strength of Facebook and other social media is that all content is embedded in a social stream," added Raynauld. "The exclusion of news from the social stream would have a negative impact on publishers with respect to engagement."

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John P. Mello Jr. was an ECT News Network journalist
since 2003. His areas of interest include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy protection, ecommerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and large electronics. public. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal on
Boston Phoenix Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.