The audience obtained by media companies through publications on Facebook went from 12% in January to 7% in June, a drop of five percentage points, or 41%, according to a report by the British consultancy Echobox.
Echobox’s Social Media Index (SMI) shows the percentage of traffic to posts that originates from different social networks. Therefore, it does not include platforms such as Google search and WhatsApp.
The SMI graph indicates that the current decline in audience coming from Facebook started in the middle of last year, after peaking at 15%. Since then, it has been falling steadily.
According to the company, groups such as Reach in the UK and BuzzFeed in the US have been affected to varying degrees by the drop in views from social media.
“It’s hard to say with certainty what the causes are, but Facebook has made no secret about its intention to de-prioritize news on its platform and place greater emphasis on video content, which naturally results in less click-through traffic,” said the Echobox CEO Antoine Amann told Gizmodo.
“It can be extremely challenging for publications to rely on third-party platforms, with performance and revenue severely impacted by algorithmic changes over which you have no control.”
According to Gizmodo, the change started in February and was accentuated in the following months. Sought by the portal, Meta did not comment.
Despite being sharp, the drop in Facebook traffic is not unprecedented. The longest lasting, according to data from Echobox, occurred between 2016 and 2018, when the social network changed the algorithm to favor content generated by the users themselves.
However, Facebook remains the largest source of traffic of its kind for publications. Even at current levels, it generates about seven times the traffic of Twitter — Instagram’s share is even smaller.
Among the causes, the Echobox report points to the regulatory disputes that big techs face in some countries and the rapid growth of TikTok and video content in recent years.
The drop in traffic coming from Facebook occurs while countries like Australia and Canada pass laws that force large platforms to remunerate journalistic content.
Australia pioneered its code, which came into force in March 2021. The model determines that vehicles negotiate individually or collectively (to increase bargaining power) with platforms the payment for journalistic content. If they cannot reach an agreement, arbitration is envisaged.
Platforms oppose the bargaining code. When it was adopted in Australia, Facebook even blocked sharing news on the platform for a week and then backtracked. Google had threatened to wipe out the search engine in the Australian market if the law took effect, but it has not followed through.
Meta adopted the same strategy on Thursday (22), after Canada approved a similar project. The text awaits sanction from the governor-general of the country, Mary Simon.
“We confirm that news availability will be terminated on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada before the Online News Act (Bill C-18) takes effect,” big tech said in a statement.
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the platforms apply “intimidation tactics”.
“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they are resorting to scare tactics to try to get what they want — it won’t work,” he said. Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
In Brazil, the PL (bill) of Fake News included payment by platforms for the journalistic content used, but, amid obstacles and strong opposition from big techs, deputies withdrew the remuneration of the text under discussion in the Chamber, to try to approve it later in another separate project.