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What Happens When Major Online Platforms Reduce Traffic to News Sites? - Slashdot


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    "The major online platforms are breaking up with news," reports the New York Times: Campbell Brown, Facebook's top news executive, said this month that she was leaving the company. Twitter, now known as X, removed headlines from the platform days later. The head of Instagram's Threads app, an X competitor, reiterated that his social network would not amplify news. Even Google — the strongest partner to news organizations over the past 10 years — has become less dependable, making publishers more wary of their reliance on the search giant. The company has laid off news employees in two recent team reorganizations, and some publishers say traffic from Google has tapered off... Some executives of the largest tech companies, like Adam Mosseri at Instagram, have said in no uncertain terms that hosting news on their sites can often be more trouble than it is worth because it generates polarized debates...

    Publishers seem resigned to the idea that traffic from the big tech companies will not return to what it once was. Even in the long-fractious relationship between publishers and tech platforms, the latest rift stands out — and the consequences for the news industry are stark. Many news companies have struggled to survive after the tech companies threw the industry's business model into upheaval more than a decade ago. One lifeline was the traffic — and, by extension, advertising — that came from sites like Facebook and Twitter. Now that traffic is disappearing. Top news sites got about 11.5% of their web traffic in the United States from social networks in September 2020, according to Similarweb, a data and analytics company. By September this year, it was down to 6.5%...

    The sharp decline in referral traffic from social media platforms over the past two years has hit all news publishers, including The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal noticed a decline starting about 18 months ago, according to a recording of a September staff meeting obtained by the Times. "We are at the mercy of social algorithms and tech giants for much of our distribution," Emma Tucker, the Journal's editor-in-chief, told the newsroom in the meeting...

    Google cut some members of its news partnership team in September, and this week it laid off as many as 45 workers from its Google News team, the Alphabet Workers Union said. (The Information, a tech news website, reported the Google News layoffs earlier.) "We've made some internal changes to streamline our organization," Jenn Crider, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement... Jaffer Zaidi [Google's vice president of global news partnerships], wrote in an internal memo reviewed by the Times that the team would be adopting more artificial intelligence. "We had to make some difficult decisions to better position our team for what lies ahead," he wrote...

    Privately, a number of publishers have discussed what a post-Google traffic future may look like and how to better prepare if Google's AI products become more popular and further bury links to news publications.


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