Facebook updates its user interface with a new type of notification that can affect traffic on older pages.
In the future, Facebook will notify users if they want to share an article that is older than 90 days.
The notification is intended to give users the opportunity to rethink sharing the article. You can either return to the screen you were on or continue posting.
During 90 days is the threshold for displaying this notification. Facebook will also determine if the article is much older.
“To ensure that users have the context they need to make informed decisions about what they want to share on Facebook, the notification screen appears when they click on articles older than 90 days. However, if you choose an article, you can still share it is still relevant. "
Why is Facebook doing this?
John Hegeman, Facebook vice president of feeds and stories, says that several months of internal research have found that the timeliness of an article is critical when users decide what to read, trust, and share.
This is a classic case of an update with questionable benefits for users and obviously negative effects for the publishers.
As a result of this update, there will surely be fewer shares in "old" articles on Facebook, which will deprive these publishers of more traffic.
An article that's 90 days old isn't exactly an old story either. While an article about COVID-19 written 90 days ago may be out of date, not all articles are irrelevant after 3 months.
As bad as this looks for publishers, it seems that even the news agencies themselves have expressed concerns that old stories are being spread as current news.
Facebook says this in its press release:
"News publishers in particular have expressed concerns that older stories will be shared …
Some news publishers have already taken steps to fix this on their own websites by highlighting older articles to prevent outdated messages from being misused. "
It sounds like publishers are doing their best to prevent accidental sharing of old articles as the latest news. Why is that still a problem on Facebook?
The real problem: sharing without clicking
As Facebook noted in the quote above, publishers go out of their way to publicize the data for articles.
If users were to proactively review the data of articles before sharing, I would argue that this notification would not be required.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for users to share content without first clicking the link. So you wouldn't know when an article was published if you never looked at it first.
This has become such a problem on social media that Twitter has taken similar measures.
Twitter is currently testing a feature that notifies users when they want to retweet a link they haven't clicked yet.
Sharing an article can lead to conversation. You can therefore read it before tweeting it.
To encourage an informed discussion, we're testing a new prompt for Android. If you retweet an article that you haven't opened on Twitter, you may be asked if you want to open it first.
– Twitter support (@TwitterSupport) June 10, 2020
The test function of Twitter is currently limited to Android.
See: Twitter checks whether articles have been read before sharing
It's not clear how widely Facebook's old article notification is spread, but the company hasn't said anything about it being a limited test.
Although Facebook has mentioned, it will be testing similar notifications over the next few months.
“Posts with links that mention COVID-19 use a similar notification screen that contains information about the source of the link and forwards people to the COVID-19 information center for critical health information.
By providing more context, we want to make it easier for people to identify content that is current, reliable, and most valuable to them. "
Source: Facebook Newsroom