When Mark Zuckerberg made his comments about Facebook ‘cracking down’ on fake news articles back on November 13th, a lot of people just thought that it was posturing or a load of ‘bluster’. Unfortunately, both Southend News Network and similar spoof news site The Rochdale Herald have noticed that there has been a significant drop in Facebook reach for our content over the last two weeks, and therefore we think that it is time for both of our core audiences to make a stand.
Since November 13th, both Southend News Network and The Rochdale Herald have been posting the same mixture of content and the same total volume of content, and we have both seen an identical drop of 80% in terms of the total number of Facebook users who are seeing links that redirect readers to our respective pages. We have both seen great results for photos, text posts and videos (our original Dartford Tolls video has been seen 1.2m times for fucks sake), but anything that links to our respective fake news-filled pages has been jettisoned by Facebook into oblivion.
We are both aware that our Facebook pages are small in comparison to the bigger fake news players out there, such as Daily Mash, Waterford Whispers and so on, and we are not expecting for one minute that these guys will share their Facebook reach data with us – after all why should they? However, it would be interesting to know how Facebook is treating the big guys in comparison to the ‘upstarts’ like us!
At Southend News Network and The Rochdale Herald, we have both noticed that our links are currently ‘liked’ just as much as they were before, but the overall traffic is down. Therefore, it is pretty clear that while we are getting the same amount of traffic from our own Facebook page, someone at Facebook Towers is pretty much sticking the ‘kaibosh’ on our links once they get out into the wild blue yonder of news feeds.
Perhaps they are paying more attention to the feature on Facebook where links can be reported as ‘fake news.’ Before you start calling us crazy and paranoid, it is well worth pointing out that on Southend News Network our best-performing three pieces of content in terms of traffic since November 13th have been our open letter to Mark Zuckerberg (an editorial, and NOT fake news), our rant about Tom Watson and his fake news crusade (an editorial, NOT fake news) and our look back at the high-profile people who have been ‘fooled’ by Southend News Network stories (an editorial, NOT fake news).
All three of these links have attracted a great deal of traffic on Facebook, and all three of these links have NOT been fake news! However, everything else has bombed – this tells us that there is definitely something fishy going on here.
When we spoke to our friends at The Rochdale Herald, as if by magic they told us EXACTLY the same story. Their non-link content on Facebook has done really well, with some killer memes going out, but all of their stories have gone ‘down the Facebook toilet.’ Now here’s the killer bit – their editorial all about the future of fake news absolutely flew in terms of overall traffic!
This isn’t just about both of us being whiny little bitches about Facebook tweaking their news feed algorithm – this is about Facebook readers being treated like idiots just in case someone gets influenced by our joke content and does something really fucking stupid like elect a US president who has never held public office before.
There may on the other hand just be a growing group of people who are leading a co-ordinated campaign of reporting and complaining about our links, but we don’t want to stray into tinfoil hat territory here 🙂
We could start a wanky little petition that gets a few signatures here and there, but there really would be very little point in that. If Facebook is prepared to stand back and watch extreme-right hatred-filled posts get hundreds of thousands of shares while relatively harmless joke news content gets heavily squashed, you really have to wonder don’t you?
The good news in all this is that we have heavily developed other means of reaching people away from Facebook over the last three months as we had a feeling that something like this may happen. However, other people who are just starting out may not be so lucky.
UPDATE: We have had some great feedback and responses to this statement and another shocking issue has been confirmed. Many people who have ‘liked’ us on Facebook have said that they have not been seeing our content on their own news feeds lately, which means that Facebook must also be restricting our reach to our own fans. Bollocks.