Less than 12 hours after Facebook's manager of media partnerships told developers that the company is moving away from passive sharing apps, a clue about the the move showed up in newsfeeds.
Facebook members may have noticed something different when they logged in Friday morning. A “Trending Articles” item in their newsfeed like this:
Last night Andy Mitchell, Facebook's manager of media partnerships, told a panel of developers that Facebook is moving away from apps that automatically share what people read. The apps, which have been developed by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, SocialCam and other media outlets, give publishers a big boost in page views.
Publishers won't be happy about losing a tool that brings people from Facebook to their sites.
Mitchell said member feedback prompted the change. There may be something more at play here than placating the Facebook base, though. Trending Articles seems like an effort to keep people in Facebook’s walled garden. It inserts like and share buttons under article links.
It's conventional wisdom that many people seeing an intriguing headline share the link with friends before or even instead of actually reading the attached article.
While we wait for more details from Facebook, I bet the new feature is designed to take advantage of that behavior.
One of the first things that struck me about the new feature is that an article that was read by as few as 1,400 members out of a billion-member social network made it to the trending list.
Looking at the number of likes I’m seeing when I click through to a trending article, it seems a lot of people are viewing the article link in their newsfeed, clicking like or share and moving on.