Facebook’s experiment that saw its News Feed split into two hasn’t been well-received in the six countries where trials were taking place. As such, the social network is ending the tests, which have faced criticism for making the company’s fake news problem even worse. Additionally, the Explore Feed tab available to everyone is also being removed.
The experiment was yet another reaction by Facebook to its insistence that users want to see more content from family and friends. It moved posts from businesses and non-governmental media organizations into a second feed, meaning the only way they could appear in the main feed was by paying to promote their content.
In October, secondary news feed tests were rolled out in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Bolivia, Cambodia, Serbia, and Slovakia. But the reaction has been far from what Facebook expected.
“You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds. In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family,” wrote Adam Mosseri, the company’s head of news feed.
Mosseri added that Facebook also “received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly.”
One of the biggest problems with the experiment was that it increased the reach of fake or sensationalist stories as many users started relying on the content friends shared for their news.
“People usually don’t share boring news with boring facts,” Filip Struharik, the social media editor of Slovakian news site Denník N, told the New York Times.
Splitting the feed confused a lot of people, but it was publishers who were hit the hardest, with many experiencing a massive decrease in user engagement on the platform.
Facebook started rolling out the Explore Feed as a separate option to everyone last year, allowing users to discover content beyond what their friends and 'liked' Pages shares. The feature is also being discontinued this week.
Back in January, Facebook altered its algorithm to prioritize friends and family in its news feed while downgrading content from businesses, brands, and media outlets.