Facebook split news feed could take out the ‘news’ with a friends-only feed

Why it matters to you

For Pages, the change would mean a drop in organic reach while users would have the option whether to see friends or Pages posts.

Facebook’s news feed could become two feeds (and one without actual news, in a journalistic sense) — the platform is currently testing a split news feed that separates friends from Pages. The Facebook split news feed would make it possible for users to choose if they just want to see posts from friends, rather than public pages.

Rather than the traditional news feed mixing posts for both followed friends, groups and pages, the tested feature would create one news feed with posts from friends, and another for finding new posts from Pages. Paid posts would continue to be displayed in the friends feed, while organic reach would be limited to the second Pages feed. It’s unclear which news feed posts from Groups would fall under.

Facebook said that the test is currently only in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia, and stressed that, at this time, the company doesn’t have plans for a global test of the potential feature.

While the future of the feature isn’t certain, the change could disrupt the reach of Pages sharing on the platform. In the countries where Facebook began testing the features, several companies are reporting drops in engagement by as much as 60 to 80 percent. According to the analytics service CrowdTangle, Pages in the countries where the feature is being tested saw a loss between two-thirds and three-quarters of their reach overnight. With users needing to go to an entirely different section for organic Pages posts, businesses using the platform could see a significant drop in reach for unpaid posts.

Pages come in many forms besides just businesses, including news outlets, which would effectively remove actual news from the news feed, as Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik pointed out.

“With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful,” Facebook said in a statement to The Guardian. “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.”

Facebook continually researches new ways to match users with the content they are looking for. The latest example is the official rollout of Explore, a feed designed entirely for finding interesting content from Pages you don’t yet follow.

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