Facebook moving non-promoted posts out of news feeds

New system moving non-promoted posts out of news feeds 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, from 60% to 80% . 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 Struhárik, a journalist at Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, the change resulted in a drop in interactions across the country’s media landscape. “Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach,” Struhárik 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 hasn’t had a huge effect on their bottom line, but it’s a different story for those with a reliance on social media.

non-promoted posts

Smaller sites are reporting a loss of traffic and Facebook engagement, Struhárik told the Guardian. “Its hard to say now how big it will be. Problems have also hit ‘Buzzfeed-like’ sites, which were more dependent on social traffic.”

Struhárik noted that the trial has only been in place since Thursday, rendering it too soon to draw strict conclusions. “But if reach is radically smaller, interactions decreased and your site doesn’t have diversity of traffic sources, it will hurt you.”

In a statement, Facebook said: With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages.”

 Also see :Facebook is testing further UI changes, including a pull-down navigation drawer

Notably, the change does not seem to affect paid promotions: those still appear on the news feed as normal, as do posts from people who have been followed or friended on the site. But the change does affect so called “native” content, such as Facebook videos, if those are posted by a page and not shared through paid promotion.

Littunen said that many “premium” publishers had already cottoned on to the trend, and backed off relying too strongly on social media. But new media companies, who rely on social media to bring in traffic and revenue, would be wounded, perhaps fatally, by the switch. “The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditised content aiming for the biggest reach.”

Elsewhere, publishers who dived towards video content as Facebook began promoting that may also get burned, Littunen says. “The kind of video that is doing best has been quite commoditised low-value stuff that is often lifted from elsewhere and repackaged for Facebook.

“We don’t see that bonanza going on forever, and since the content isn’t what Facebook has been hoping for, it’s expendable. We’re expecting to see another repeat of this playbook, with organic reach being replaced by paid reach.”

Trending :Facebook Just Announcements Six New Features (They are Awesome)

For Struhárik, there is one last catch: he doesn’t expect the test to be a huge success. “Newsfeed without news. Just friends and sponsored content. People will find out how boring their friends are,” he said.

Since you’re here …

we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.

Facebook organized pro-Trump rallies : Russia

Facebook should be treated like a crime scene. The social media company likely has troves of data that could provide critical leads for the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The effort to investigate possible coordination between the Trump team and Russia has so far centered on the growing number of meetings and interactions between the campaign and Kremlin-linked figures.

These meetings already tell us a lot about intent. For instance, with the revelation of the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; Paul Manafort, the chairman of the Trump campaign at the time, and a handful of Russians with various ties to the Kremlin, we now know that at the very least the Trump campaign at the highest levels were interested in workingwith the Russians during the election.

And likewise, from the Jan. 6 Intelligence Community report, we know that Russians also wanted to help elect Donald Trump and effectively set up a campaign to do so. This meant there were essentially two campaigns to elect Trump president in 2016: the Trump campaign and the Russian campaign.

Read more: Elon Musk predicts AI may trigger World War III

Knowing these two efforts were open, if not eager, to work together, the question then becomes: Did they and to what end ?

In other words, what were they meeting about?

In trying to investigate this question, it is worth thinking through how a campaign could benefit from working with a foreign power.

One, now well-explored, area would be utilizing foreign intelligence capabilities for “opposition research.” As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) explained at a recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, “Imagine being able to do [opposition research] with the power of a nation state, illegally acquiring things like emails and being able to weaponize by leaking.”

This of course is what the hacking and leaking of information from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, former chairman of the Clinton campaign, is all about.

Other potential areas involve utilizing foreign cyber capabilities to hack into election machines and cause mischief at the polls. Another more basic area would be to coordinate messaging or lines of attack, with the outside power covertly advancing messages that are too controversial for the campaign.

But the most direct way a foreign power could help a campaign is through giving money. Campaigns always need more money, usually to buy more ads. While the Russians could have laundered money to the campaign – indeed Christopher Steele alleges this in his infamous dossier – they could have also just covertly bought campaign ads themselves using a front group or proxy.

Along with posting memes, the Being Patriotic page also tried to organize four rallies, according to the report. One of those was supposed to be a “patriotic state-wide flash mob” occurring simultaneously in 17 cities across Florida in support of Trump. The Daily Beast says it found evidence that at least two of those rallies materialized — Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs — and were documented on Facebook by the local campaign chair for Trump.

The Being Patriotic account reportedly had over 200,000 followers at the time it was shut down, and had tried to organize other pro-Trump or anti-Hillary events in New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. A related Twitter account also posted at least one comment promoting violence against Black Lives Matters supporters.

The Daily Beast suggests the Being Patriotic account came from the Internet Research Agency, a Russian group that US intelligence has identified as “professional trolls” funded by a “close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence.”

While this isn’t the first Facebook account that’s been publicly tied to Russian propagandists, this appears to be the first time we’re seeing Russian efforts to organize Trump supporters for physical demonstrations. That it ultimately worked, to at least some extent, shows that the propaganda campaign had real and tangible effects beyond the spread of memes.

Facebook said earlier this month that it had found evidence of Russians buying political ads during the campaign, spending $100,000 under fake accounts. That’s not a huge amount of money for Facebook, but it’s clear their work led to some results.

The Trump campaign is certainly aware of how effective targeted Facebook posts can be. BuzzFeed reported today that the president’s and vice president’s Facebook pages are paying for ads that are only visible to groups of users — likely their own supporters — that they choose to target. The ads are asking for donations.