How are the social reader applications doing on Facebook

There's been a big drop off by users for applications that were early in the Facebook Open Graph API, which would automatically post what people were reading to Facebook in what was called "frictionless sharing." (hat tip to Don Loeb of Typekit/Adobe for pointing out these articles)


  1. The renewed look at how social reader applications was doing was touched off by this article in Forbes:
  2. On Facebook, the article and revelations about the numbers drew some strong reactions from my subscribers/friends:
  3. if this is true for the Post, it must be true for many publishers on the FB platform. Which can't be good for FB either, long-term...
  4. But Eric Westby, who works at WaPo Labs, which developed the social reader, noted that this phenonemon wasn't isolated to the Post:
  5. Burt nailed it in his comment above. Facebook is working through several news feed solutions for displaying headlines, and we both benefit and suffer from their capriciousness. Things will settle down eventually. The only frustrating thing is the disingenuousness shown by the Forbes writer in not noting that all social apps are in the same boat.
  6. The Washington Post had early access to the new Facebook feature due to the fact that the Post Publisher Donald Graham is on Facebook's board and has been an adviser to Mark Zuckerberg.
  7. But the problem isn't isolated to the Post, as Eric asserted and was also noted by this article by Buzzfeed:
  8. I asked Eric what he thought about this and if he could talk about how much was related to user fatigue:
  9. ‎Eric Westby Yes, the other Buzzfeed post mentioned it was a wider phenomenon, but they seem to attribute it to user fatigue rather than Facebook changing the algorithms for the newsfeed. I'm sure you know the real user numbers, but probably can't share them publicly :)
  10. Eric indeed didn't reveal numbers, but confirmed that the steep declines weren't from user fatigue alone:
  11. Indeed I cannot! But it's no secret that Facebook has been testing a variety of algorithms and presentations in the news feed over the past six weeks. Given the steepness of the decline, I think it goes without saying that Facebook's changes account for far more of the drop-off than does sharing fatigue.
  12. TechCrunch's Josh Constine weighed in a with a post that actually explored the reasons for the drop and changes in how the Facebook news feed works:
  13. Meanwhile, others also cried out for more context to the issue in reactions on Twitter to my Storify story: