Facebook’s Explore Feed disaster

Dec 1, 2017 by
Facebook’s Explore Feed disaster

Besides being a platform for political manipulation, racism based advertising, and a wonderful way to keep in touch with your hip gran, Facebook has become a hot topic for a number of months.

The most recent controversy, however, is one largely of their own doing. Posts from business pages were moved from the News Feed to Facebook’s new discovery focused Explore Feed in six countries: Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka. This caused panic as businesses’ and news publishers’ organic reach plummeted seemingly overnight. Slovakia alone has had 60 of its largest Facebook Pages see reach losses of two-thirds.

The Explore Feed is supposed to be a way for users to discover content that they may find interesting, including photos, videos, and other pages. What this means for the above six countries is that their pages posts (news, business ads, things that have taken a lot of money and time to create) are listed alongside America’s Got Talent videos and memes. Businesses in Cambodia have been monitoring this change and report a 60% loss of reach, and for a country where business education and marketing knowledge is not on the same level as developed countries this loss can spell doom for many start-ups. Many in Cambodia know Facebook as their only means for marketing, and being a tool they already know how to use many potential clients go for Facebook. But if potential clients can’t see the content, what’s the point?

facebook thumb downThe only way to be seen on the default Feed is for either users to go into this new Explore Feed and find ‘liked’ pages, or for the page owners to pay money to Facebook for more ads. Facebook as an online marketing tool is already an investment that not all struggling young start-ups (or struggling young democracies) can afford. This will only mean either you submit and pay up to keep-up, or your page will surely take a loss. Facebook’s Head of News, Adam Mosseri, has since stated that the company has no plans currently to expand globally. “Some have interpreted this test as a future product we plan to deliver globally. We currently have no plans to roll this test out further,” he said.

“The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content,” Mosseri added. “We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further.”

Besides being an expensive inconvenience for business and a “Downright Orwellion” problem for journalists, Facebook’s action speaks of a bigger problem. Facebook, like any company, cares about its bottom line first and foremost. And to meet their bottom line, they will roll out new features and products that may be detrimental to your business, and they will do so regularly. If these tests were implemented globally, we would be seeing a catastrophic shift in how marketing, news, and business uses social media to interact with the world.

Whether you have had success or not using Facebook for marketing, only time will tell how their decisions will affect the rest of the world.