Rebel Insights

Facebook Removed Its News Tab in the U.S. and Australia. Here’s How It’s Affected Traffic to Publishers

Facebook Removed Its News Tab in the U.S. and Australia. Here’s How It’s Affected Traffic to Publishers

This article was originally posted on the Chartbeat blog. Chartbeat’s real-time content analytics, historical dashboards, and optimization tools help the world’s leading media organizations understand, measure, and build business value from their content.

After deprecating the Facebook News tab in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany last year, Meta has now done the same in the United States and Australia.

According to Meta, “The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80%. We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content — they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions, and interests.”

Our own research has also shown Facebook traffic to news and media sites falling in the past few years. To understand how the deprecation of the News tab might further impact this trend, we looked at Facebook traffic in the U.S. and Australia before, during, and after the shutdown.

A Tale of Two Countries

Our data shows that referral traffic from Facebook fell in both the U.S. and Australia when comparing the months of March (pre-deprecation) and May (post-deprecation). In Australia, Facebook traffic to publishers in May was 8.3% less than in March. In the U.S., Facebook traffic declined 11.9%.

Chartbeat

Because of the general downward trend of Facebook traffic over the past years, we expanded the timeline a little further to see if these declines were merely a continuation of macro trends or if the deprecation of Facebook News has had an immediate measurable impact.

Chartbeat

In the U.S., despite a small rally in March, we see a similar month-to-month pageview decline of 11% when comparing January to May. In Australia, however, while Facebook traffic did decline in April, from the beginning of the year to now, raw traffic from the social network is actually up 20%.

Chartbeat

Is Australia a Special Case?

With such variation between raw traffic for these two countries, it’s worth zooming out a little further and examining how Facebook fits into the bigger picture. Though Facebook traffic comprises a much higher percentage of social traffic in Australia than the U.S. — 42.5% to 22.4% — when we look at Facebook traffic as a percentage of total traffic, both countries are between 3% and 4%.

Chartbeat

Despite Australia’s increase in pageviews from Facebook, neither country has experienced a measurable change in its percentage of total traffic, showing us that traffic trends have not meaningfully shifted since the deprecation of Facebook News.

How Other Updates and Outages Have Affected Facebook Traffic

This isn’t the first time news access on Facebook has been interrupted or altered. Typically, when Facebook is totally unavailable due to an outage, other channels have seen their traffic increase:

When Facebook is up, but news is unavailable, it’s a different story. The last time news and media access was blocked on Facebook in Australia, total traffic fell more than 30%. When the ban was lifted, referral traffic quickly rose from less than 10,000 pageviews per day to more than 100,000 and continued climbing thereafter.

Takeaways From the Research

  • Facebook traffic in the U.S. has decreased since the deprecation of Facebook News, but not measurably more than in other months of the year.
  • In Australia, though pageviews from Facebook have grown since the beginning of the year, Facebook as a percentage of total traffic has actually decreased slightly.
  • Social traffic is a more significant referral source in the U.S. than in Australia, but Facebook is a much larger portion of social traffic in Australia.
  • Facebook still remains the largest social referrer in our network, and our partners at Tubular Labs have shown that the audience opportunity on the platform is actually growing, as video views for media properties had an average increase of 11% in 2023.

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