Big discussion yesterday over Facebook’s traffic faucet and the sudden decline in monthly actives for social reader apps.
No, Facebook news reader apps aren’t declining because users suddenly got fed up with auto-sharing. The user loss is likely due to the transition to “trending articles”, a new way of surfacing recently read articles in the news feed that Facebook is testing.
It’s a valid point — users don’t just flee all at once, as the Washington Post Social Reader AppData graph may have shown.
But in a way, it’s possible the user loss can be tied to negative user sentiment. Facebook wouldn’t change the News Feed if the social reader apps were actually interesting and/or driving interaction. Perhaps Facebook saw a trend that most users viewed these as too noisy or too spammy for their feeds, then implemented a News Feed change.
Either way, it’s bad news for any company looking to build a product that relies upon Facebook interactions. It’s a (harsh?) reminder that Facebook is in full control of what gets into the News Feed, so entrepreneurs building social applications should be warned.