Facebook is running a news feed test that might cause a massive shift in the way users see content.
The experiment involves moving non-promoted posts — ones from friends and family — into a separate news feed, away from posts shared by celebrities and pages the user has liked.
Facebook Might Have Two News Feeds Soon
Facebook is running the experiment in six countries, including Slovakia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Cambodia, and Guatemala and will likely go on for months.
Suppose the tests translate to a wider rollout, it means users will have two entirely separate Facebook news feeds: one for original posts by friends and one for posts shared by liked pages. Engadget notes that the non-promoted news feed will still have ads, though.
The tests began last week, but the effects have already been significant. Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik wrote in a blog post that there's been a dramatic drop for pages in terms of organic reach.
"The reach of several Facebook Pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days," wrote Struhárik.
"Sixty biggest Slovak media pages have 4 times fewer interactions (likes, comments, shares) since the test. It looks like the effect in Guatemala and Cambodia is the same." Those figures were confirmed by analytics service CrowdTangle, showing significant reductions in their Facebook reach.
What This Could Mean For Publishers
Splitting the news feed into two could be unpleasant news for publishers that rely heavily on Facebook traffic to promote their content, and it might have a direct effect on their revenue as well. Matti Littunen, from Enders Analysis, told The Guardian that the pages this change will strike the most are the likes of "Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider," which, he said, create "commoditized content" that aim for the maximum reach.
A Facebook spokesperson claimed that the implementation of dual news feeds is just a regional test but gave no information on how long it'll last and whether the company plans to roll it out for all Facebook users around the globe.
Facebook's News Feed Boss Responds
Most recently, however, Facebook's news feed boss Adam Mosseri confirmed it won't be rolled out widely.
"It's not global and there are no plans to be," he wrote on Twitter.
"People often tell us they want more from friends so we're testing two feeds, one for friend content and another dedicated to page content."
After several reports surfaced about Facebook's dual news feed plans, Mosseri published a proper blog post addressing the matter, clarifying certain rumors being passed around.
"The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content," he wrote. "We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it's an idea worth pursuing any further."