Facebook has ended the trial of its Explore News Feed which separated publishers’ posts from those of family and friends.
The social network ran a pilot scheme of the changes in October in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia, clearing the News Feed of everything but posts from friends and sponsored posts.
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Users were only able to see posts from publishers in a separate feed, or in the main feed if the brand paid for the privilege.
A Slovakian journalist reported a dramatic drop in organic reach to news websites in his country, while a Cambodian freelancer said Facebook was playing a “dangerous game with free expression” as news outlets and NGOs struggled to reach people with timely information.
Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook’s News Feed, said in a blog post that surveys in response to the trial revealed people were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing and that having two separate feeds did not help them connect more with friends and family.
He said there was a preference for the most recent News Feed update, which prioritises posts from friends and family over posts from the media and other brands and has been called “deeply significant” for the industry.
US digital publisher Little Things became the first major casualty of the algorithm change this week, after a “catastrophic” and sudden drop in organic and influencer traffic of more than 75 per cent.
Mosseri wrote: “We think our recent changes to News Feed that prioritize meaningful social interactions better address the feedback we heard from people who said they want to see more from friends and family.
“Those changes mean less public content in News Feed like posts from businesses, brands, and media.
“We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly.
“We’re acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them.
“Separately, we’re also discontinuing the Explore Feed bookmark globally this week. Explore gave people a new feed of content to discover Pages and public figures they hadn’t previously followed.
“We concluded that Explore isn’t an effective way for people to discover new content on Facebook.
“We’re always looking to help people connect with the people and information that matter most to them. Both of these tests provided us with valuable feedback that we will use to improve News Feed for everyone.”
Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic