Social Media, As We Know It, Is Once Again Changing; De-Emphasizing News and Prioritizing Virality
After the Hamas launched their attack, misinformation quickly flooded social media — including a phony US government doc edited to look like it approved $8B in military aid to Israel and viral clips from a video game with a label indicating that a “large Israeli offensive is underway.”
Some were posted by fake accounts pretending to be news publications, while others were accounts with X’s verified checkmark — and whose posts get “prioritized rankings in conversations and search.”
Shifting focus: In recent years, social media platforms have begun distancing themselves from the news — which has been a major headache for execs. After repeated Congress appearances discussing misinformation, Meta (NASDAQ:META) told publishers last year it would stop paying for content and remove the news tab from several European countries.
And last year, Meta blocked news in Canada after regulations were put in place that required social media platforms to pay for news. The results:
- In the three years up to August 2023, monthly traffic from Facebook to news sites fell by nearly 80%.
- Traffic from X has been cut in half, and headlines from news links were recently removed as part of efforts to keep users on X.
TikTok made me do it
Less news traffic hasn’t shown in Meta’s sales — which has only gone up in recent years. Instead, Meta is taking a page out of TikTok’s playbook, putting a focus on its short-video Reels product and prioritizing entertainment and content from non-followed accounts.
- UNC’s Professor of Political Communications, Daniel Kreiss, told Bloomberg, “We’ve moved from social media to algorithmic media,” and “the information landscape is fundamentally different.”
- But the exit from news creates a gap in the market where 50% of Gen Zs and 45% of millennials get their daily news from social media, per a 2022 Morning Consult survey.
Former Elections Policy Exec, Katie Harbath, told Bloomberg, “People used to know they could go to Twitter for this or Facebook for that. Now people don’t know where to go.” If your business relies on social media for traffic, it’s time to find a new channel — unless you want to end up like BuzzFeed (NASDAQ:BZFD).