In a significant shift in the online landscape, major platforms, including the recently rebranded Twitter (now known as X), have made moves to distance themselves from news dissemination, according to The New York Times.
Facebook’s leading news executive, Campbell Brown, exited the company this month, followed by X’s decision to eliminate headlines from their platform. Furthermore, the head of Instagram’s Threads app, which competes with X, reaffirmed their stance of not promoting news content.
Even Google, which has been a reliable partner for news organizations for the past decade, is now regarding news with caution. The tech behemoth has recently reduced its news staff during two organizational overhauls. Some publishers report dwindling traffic from Google, intensifying their concerns over dependency.
The implication is crystal clear: major online platforms are distancing themselves from the news industry.
Recent comments from tech industry executives underscore this trend. Instagram’s Adam Mosseri stated that hosting news often leads to polarized debates, making it more trouble than it’s worth. X’s owner, Elon Musk, has also shown skepticism towards mainstream media.
This development poses a challenge for news companies, many of which adjusted their business models over the past decade to leverage traffic and advertising revenue from platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Data from Similarweb reveals that U.S. news sites experienced a drop in web traffic from social networks from 11.5% in September 2020 to 6.5% a year later.
Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, highlighted the severe decline in social traffic over the last 12-18 months, suggesting that we are transitioning to a “post-social web.”
Although Google remains an essential traffic source for publishers, recent declines in referral traffic have raised alarms about future stability.
Google’s ongoing push towards artificial intelligence, with products like the Bard AI chatbot and AI-powered search results, has left news organizations apprehensive about the potential reduction in site traffic.
Amid these changes, publishers are exploring alternative strategies for engaging readers. LaFrance mentioned The Atlantic’s focus on branded newsletters, their homepage, and print magazine, emphasizing the importance of direct connections with readers.
LaFrance concluded, “We should not rely solely on a few dominant platforms for information. The decreasing influence of the social web can, in many ways, be seen as freeing.”