Programming Interrupted

A brisk wind is blowing through the Content Trenches today: Social media professionals at some publications are reporting, anonymously, that their Facebook numbers are plummeting. Specifically the complaints are about “Reach,” a somewhat mysterious number that is, after directly measured referral traffic, the best metric publishers have for how well stories posted to their official pages (as in facebook.com/publication) are performing. For some publishers, this number has been reduced to a tiny fraction of what they had previously come to expect, effectively muting official pages with many thousands of followers (the change started early this morning). Publishers have been told that the issue will be addressed, and that it is a temporary problem, so they are hesitant to make the matter public. Nonetheless it is causing quite a bit of anxiety in quite a few newsrooms right now — some small, some very large; some new, some very old — and has not yet been remedied or fully explained. This issue is not universal. For example: Some Gawker properties are affected while (at least) some Vox properties are not. Related: Email!

This is felt as a great inconvenience to said publishers, for whom a longer-term loss of Facebook traffic would range from temporarily disastrous to existentially threatening; this is felt on Facebook as a whole, one must assume, barely at all.