Facebook tests separate news feeds for personal and public posts

Facebook tests separate news feeds for personal and public posts

Facebook has been quietly testing changes that would relegate posts from 'pages' on the social network to a secondary news feed, in order to focus on friends' posts and ads in the main news feed.

The social network has stressed that it has no plans to expand the experiment, which ran in six countries. However, if the results lead to the change being implemented more widely in the future, brands and influencers alike will need to adapt.

Facebook's head of news feed Adam Mosseri published a blog post about the tests, explaining what the company was doing, while trying to calm marketers' fears about the impact on their Facebook traffic.

"There have been a number of reports about a test we’re running in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. 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," wrote Mosseri.

"People tell us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family. We are testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explore, with posts from pages."

Mosseri added that Facebook was gauging the appeal of "separate places for personal and public content" on its service, and stressed that the company will not be rushing to take action based on the findings.

"We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore," he wrote. "Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention."

The Guardian had earlier reported on concerns from media in Slovakia, who had seen 'organic' reach of their Facebook page posts drop by between two thirds and three quarters since the test was introduced last week.

If Facebook does ultimately decide to separate personal posts from page posts in its feeds, influencer marketing would need to adapt. The most likely outcome would be brands footing the bill to promote videos and posts from the social stars that they work with on campaigns, to ensure they still appear in the main news feed.

Other implications could focus around influencers using Facebook Live streams. Since the live-video feature was introduced, it has ranked highly in Facebook's news-feed algorithm, and has thus generated large audiences for influencers with big followings.

While Facebook dividing its news feed into personal and public feeds might see those influencers forced to pay to continue reaching that many viewers, it's also possible that the social network's recently-launched 'Watch' tab – only available in the US so far – would also play a role in driving audiences to those streams.

Contributing Editor

Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)