Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta made a decisive shift away from the news distribution business on Facebook and Instagram in 2023, which CNBC reports has had a massive impact on the media industry.
CNBC reports that Meta’s withdrawal from its role as a distributor of news content has marked a significant change in the digital news media ecosystem — with many publishers claiming they’re facing a major reduction in traffic following the change. This strategic shift, initially announced in September 2023, has led to the “deprecation” of its Facebook news tab around the world. This move was part of Mark Zuckerberg’s claimed goal of aligning its investments with products and services that users value most.
According to a study by Chartbeat, which analyzed 1,930 news and media websites, Facebook’s contribution to overall social traffic, measured by page views, plummeted from 50 percent to 33 percent as of December 2023. This decline was also reflected in referral volumes from social media and search engines, with Facebook’s share dropping significantly.
Zuckerberg’s decision to pull away from news distribution was influenced by a number factors, including years of public relations challenges related to misinformation and account censorship controversies. These issues had brought intense scrutiny and criticism from various political spectrums, with conservative politicians accusing the company of leftist bias, and others criticizing its role in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Publications like Mother Jones reportedly experienced a drastic reduction in traffic referrals from Facebook. The decline in traffic from Facebook has forced many media outlets to adapt their strategies for audience engagement and revenue generation. This adaptation has included a greater emphasis on other distribution channels, such as Google, which has seen an increase in its share of external traffic to news sites.
Some media companies have also been exploring alternative platforms like YouTube and diversifying their content strategies to include newsletters and apps. The changing dynamics of news distribution and consumption patterns have also seen newer platforms like China’s TikTok gaining popularity as news sources, although their role in driving traffic to media outlets remains limited.
Read more at CNBC here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.