The decision to end Instant Articles is being seen as a clear sign that Meta has now shifted its focus to ‘video’, and is moving away from instant news.
A Meta spokesperson confirmed the news on Friday, saying that publishers have been notified that Meta will stop supporting Instant Articles as of mid-April 2023.
The spokesperson said publishers have 6 months to find an alternative, but traffic linked to Instant Articles that remains on Facebook will go to the publisher’s webpage.
What are Facebook Instant Articles? These were Facebook’s HTML documents, designed to load exceptionally fast on mobile. When Facebook launched this format, it was also claimed that ‘Instant Articles’ would load and display four times faster than any standard mobile web. In 2015, the service became very attractive to news publishers, as Facebook’s mobile app was a big name at the time.
Facebook’s Instant Articles benefited publishers who wanted to avoid slow-loading mobile pages, but at the cost of requiring partners to host their content on Facebook’s servers in exchange for faster load times, and Had to post directly on the site itself. Thus, Facebook also benefited greatly from news publishers, lots of content, and long-term presence of users. Publishers also got the benefit of adding their own ads to Instant Articles, Facebook’s ‘Audience Network’ for automatically placing ads.
However, Meta now says that the service no longer has any business appeal for Facebook. Why? A Meta spokesperson says that posts with links to news articles in the Facebook ‘feed’ are currently being viewed very rarely, less than 3 percent worldwide. However, there is no reason for a business to invest in something that does not suit the consumer’s preferences.
Tik Tok’s immense popularity on social media has made it clear that users are now more engaged in short videos than written articles, and this is something Meta has hardly grasped. Meanwhile, Facebook has been less and less interested in a news service on its platform, especially after the 2016 US presidential election when there was a wave of misinformation and harmful political content, and the news service Hawa Di, which has been criticized for years by activists and academics alike.
This trend continued earlier this year, so Facebook no longer plans to pay publishers for content that appears on its News tab.
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