The Social Media News Exodus From "Like" to "Unlike"

Social referrals to news websites have practically been cut in half over the last three years, in a shocking turn of events that may force social media and news media to divorce. The virtual friendship between social media and news media is deteriorating, with extensive social networks playing hard to get.

Similarweb, a statistics and analytics firm, has presented a picture of this shifting relationship, demonstrating that social media referrals to news sites have significantly decreased. The major social network operators' changing algorithms and attitudes are partly to blame for this trend.

A Rocky Relationship: Twitter and Facebook Deemphasize News

Both Facebook and Twitter have been tinkering with their approach to news, which has undoubtedly impacted this separation between social media and communication. Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook, has been focusing on prioritizing personal statements from users' contacts over global news. It's almost like Meta decided it's better for you to know what your friends had for breakfast than to stay informed about world events.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk's Twitter has taken a posture favoring news and comments expressed directly on the platform above links to reliable news sources. Musk even decreed that Twitter would no longer display headlines in news story previews when users post links. While the change was announced, it is taking time to take effect, with some users still seeing headlines on their feeds. It's like a social networking site in its rebellious adolescence.

To add to the drama, a new law in Canada requires social networks to pay for the display of journalistic information, saying that they benefit from publishing or republishing it. As a result, Facebook simply ceased showing links to news stories to Canadian users. It's like a bitter breakup where one party decides to walk away.

The Bigger Picture: A Trend in Decline

The bigger picture reveals a trend in decline. A closer look at specific websites shows a significant drop in social referrals between September 2020 and September 2023: From 14.6% to 5.5% From 19.6% to 9.4% From 17.3% to 10.6% From 23.6% to 9.3% From 22.4% to 10.1% From 12.9% to 5.4% From 22.3% to 13.1% From 19.2% to 11.4% From 16.6% to 14.1% From 26.7% to 16.4% From 20.9% to 10.0% From 16.0% to 9.0% From 13.2% to 8.4%

The evidence is crystal clear: there has been a notable decline in social referrals to well-known news platforms. This emphasizes the ever-changing relationship between social media and the news industry. It's crucial for both sectors to adapt and understand these evolving dynamics to stay ahead of the game.

It's worth noting that this evolving relationship between social media and news media reflects a broader trend. In the early days of social media, these platforms and news outlets had a more cordial connection, with users often sharing news articles. Over time, concerns about misinformation and disinformation began to sour this relationship. It's as if the honeymoon phase is over, and the two are starting to realize they might have irreconcilable differences.

To summarize, the relationship between social media and news media is changing, and it is apparent that the love affair with sharing news stories is on the rocks. It's unclear whether this is a temporary split or a full-fledged breakup, but it's a relationship worth keeping an eye on.

Read next: A Rollercoaster Ride as Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover
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