Small businesses which blossomed on Facebook are now fleeing in droves, after the social media giant implemented a major change to the platform's news feed to offer content from "friends and family," while hiding "videos and other posts from publishers or businesses," reports NBC News.
While the goal was to make Facebook "more social," publishers ranging from big businesses to cottage-industry blogs have been forced to generate more original content, as opposed to sharing products or affiliate links which are now being suppressed by the Menlo Park, CA company.
Some small publishers have seen their income slashed over 50%.
“One of the Facebook policy changes that kind of went under the radar and it went into effect in February was the branded content policy. And it decreased my income from Facebook by 60 percent, overnight. No explanation.” said Holly Homer, a Texas entrepreneur who runs the Facebook pages for “Quirky Mama” and “Kids Activities.”
Homer hired five employees after he Facebook page took off, while her husband quit his full-time medical job to help run the business.
Homer showed NBC News a chart of interactions with her Facebook page that shows a decrease in February when Facebook implemented changes to News Feed. -NBC News
Meanwhile, the popular feel-good Facebook page "Little Things" has left Facebook altogether after their clicks dropped by 75%. Their content has since been acquired by RockYouMedia and continues to actively produce content.
Other small independent publishers have left the platform as well, while Twitter sees an opportunity; encouraging publishers to sign up for "Twitter Timeline Ads" which it claims will help "generate revenue for your site."
Another company taking advantage of Facebook's oppressive algo is Maven - a platform launched in 2016 to compete with Facebook, which has already attracted over 300 publishers, and is getting around 90 million unique clicks per month. Homer has moved her KidsActivities page to Maven, and is directing her Facebook followers to the site.
NBC News reached out to Facebook about the decreases in traffic experienced by Homer and other small businesses, and a spokesperson told NBC News, "In response to feedback, we've recently made some changes to prioritize conversations among friends and family. Although this means some public pages may see a decline in reach, the goal is to make sure that people can connect around authentic and engaging posts." -NBC News
Last month, Facebook was once again in the news after a top executive allegedly told a group of digital publishers that Mark Zuckerberg "doesn't care" about news publishers, and is happy to let them die if they don't cooperate with the company.
"I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice," said Facebook global head of partnerships, Campbell Brown.
“This is real money for these influencers,” Melissa Parrish, vice president at social media trend analyzer Forrester, told NBC News.
“It is all based on traffic. That's why it can change overnight - because if suddenly your traffic goes away, so does your income."