nearly two years under fire for false news and Russian election
meddling, Facebook has felt the pressure from users and government
regulators to address these issues. Earlier this year, CEO Mark
Zuckerberg announced changes to the platform’s news feed product
with content from "more posts from friends and family" and "less
public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or
The goal was to
make Facebook more social with fewer commercial and product posts.
Publishers ranging from big businesses to mommy bloggers are forced
to post more content that they create personally, rather than
sharing products or affiliate links.
changes, some small publishers claim to see a massive downside.
“One of the
Facebook policy changes that kind of went under the radar and it
went into effect in February was the branded content policy. And it
decreased my income from Facebook by 60 percent, overnight. No
explanation.” said Holly Homer, an entrepreneur from Texas who owns
the Facebook pages for “Quirky Mama” and “Kids Activities.”
With over 3
million followers, Homer’s Facebook page had become so popular she
hired five employees and her husband quit his full-time medical job
to help with the business. Homer showed NBC News a chart of
interactions with her Facebook page that shows a decrease in
February when Facebook implemented changes to News Feed.
brands that have Facebook pages also claim to have seen a decrease
on Facebook, including the popular feel-good Facebook page “Little
Things”, which shut down after clicks dropped by 75 percent. The
brand LittleThings has since been acquired by RockYouMedia and
actively produces content.
But as other
small independent publishers struggle to reach their previous
success, some are ditching Facebook completely. Twitter is taking
advantage of the situation, putting out a call to publishers to sign
up for “Twitter Timeline Ads," which it says will "generate revenue
for your site.”
A new platform
has even been launched to combat Facebook: Maven debuted in 2016 and
has already attracted more than 300 publishers to its site, getting
about 90 million unique clicks a month. Homer moved her
KidsActivities page to Maven, and now directs her Facebook followers
to the competitor platform.
reached out to Facebook about the decreases in traffic experienced
by Homer and other small businesses, and a spokesperson told NBC
News, "In response to feedback, we've recently made some changes to
prioritize conversations among friends and family. Although this
means some public pages may see a decline in reach, the goal is to
make sure that people can connect around authentic and engaging
is real money for these influencers... it is all based on traffic.
If suddenly your traffic goes away, so does your income."
a new PR challenge last month after a top executive reportedly told
a group of digital publishers that founder Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t
care” about news publishers and that the company would let them die
if they didn’t cooperate with the company.
holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice,”
Campbell Brown, global head of news partnerships at Facebook, reportedly
told a group of publishers.
spokesperson said in a statement that the comments were out of
context and do not reflect its corporate stance.
“This is real
money for these influencers,” Melissa Parrish, vice president at
Forrester, who analyzes social media trends, told NBC News.
“It is all
based on traffic. That's why it can change overnight - because if
suddenly your traffic goes away, so does your income."