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Facebook Experiments with Removing Data on Individual Stories Viewers



This is interesting. According to reports from some users, Facebook is testing out a new process that would limit your insight into who’s viewed your Facebook Story to only those that have reacted to each Stories frame, or left a comment.

Facebook Stories view count

As you can see in this screenshot, posted by user Elodie Flenniau, some Facebook users are now being informed that they will no longer get a full listing of Stories viewers, essentially enabling random people who come across your Facebook Stories to view them without you knowing, and quietly keep tabs on your Stories content without fear of being identified.

Up till now, Facebook has provided a full listing of Stories viewers, as well as any Reactions each person has allocated to each of your Stories frames.

Facebook Stories view count

But much like Facebook doesn’t provide insights on who’s viewed your profile, it now seems to be shifting Stories into line with the same approach.

Which sounds like Facebook is looking to enable subtle stalking – though, of course, people who you’re not connected to on the platform are only able to view Stories that you’ve made public, so it’s not creepy, as such. If you want to share something that you don’t want potential stalkers to see, keep it among ‘Friends only’.

But then again, it does feel a little uneasy.

Why Facebook is looking to make the change we don’t know – we reached out to Facebook for more info on the test, but they didn’t get back to us at the time of publication. But it does seem like Facebook’s looking to avoid potential angst by letting people know who, specifically, has checked out their Stories content.

But people should know, right? There’s value in knowing who exactly is seeing what you post – but then again, if your new colleague is checking out your holiday snaps, maybe that’s a little weird, and maybe it could make things strange at work, even though it’s a relatively harmless action.

I’d assume that’s what Facebook is looking to avoid, those potentially awkward circumstances where someone is checking out your content which might make you feel uncomfortable, even though there’s no ill-intent on the part of the viewer. It could also increase psychological harm by showing you past acquaintances that are keeping tabs on you through your Stories updates.

Does it make sense to just cut that data off? I mean, I guess. In the vast majority of cases, this would be harmless, but could get weird, and again, if you had any serious concerns about unwanted exposure, you could keep your Stories private.

But it could also reduce insight for brands, which could limit your research capacity, if it does indeed get expanded to all Stories types.

As noted, we’ve asked Facebook for more information, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.


Meta Threatens to Ban News Publishers Amid Debate Over New Revenue Share Proposal



NFTs are Coming to Facebook and Instagram – Whether You Like Them or Not

As Meta continues to lean further into AI-based content recommendations to keep users engaged in its apps, you know what it doesn’t need anywhere near as much as it used to? News content.

Meta has made this much clear, by ending its content deals with publishers, cutting its investment into news initiatives like its dedicated News Tab, Instant Articles and newsletters, and even directly noting that it’s de-prioritizing political news in-stream.

Which is why the latest push in the US to force Meta to pay more to news publishers seems particularly ill-timed.

This week, reports have suggested that the controversial ‘Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) has been added to the annual defense authorization bill, which could see it carried into law in the new year.

The JCPA would facilitate an exemption under US antitrust law that would enable US news outlets to collectively bargain with social media platforms in order to negotiate a larger share of ad revenue, in exchange for the use of their content – i.e. it would force Meta to pay for links to news content in its apps.

Which is now, and always has been a controversial policy approach. But with the Australian Treasury Department recently reporting that its similar Media Bargaining Code has been a success, and has re-directed millions into the local media market, other nations are now taking a closer look – with New Zealand now also considering its own Media Bargaining Code along similar lines.

But again, Meta probably doesn’t need news like it used to anymore, and it could cut it off entirely in response. Which is exactly what Meta has threatened to do.

As per Meta:

If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

Now, there’s a level of posturing here, and it seems unlikely that Meta would remove news content entirely. But that is what it did in Australia last year, amid negotiations over the media Bargaining bill.

At the same time, Australia’s media ecosphere is far smaller than the US. Would Meta really move to block all US news organizations from sharing content in its apps – and if it did, what would that mean for engagement and interaction in each?

This is the key point of the debate. On one side, media organizations argue that Meta generates a heap of engagement off the back of its reporting, which then constitutes a significant chunk of its revenue, because more users engaging more often means more ads, etc.

But Meta says that news content isn’t as big a deal to it as publishers seem to think – and as Meta notes, it views this as a more reciprocal relationship, where publishers use its apps to maximize reach, which in-turn helps them drive their business.

And again, Meta has been distancing itself from news content more and more over time, and leaning into a more TikTok-like approach of showing users video clips and entertaining posts, based on AI-fueled recommendations for each user.

Given this, could Meta now be in a position to actually cut off news publishers entirely, without impacting its revenue performance?

You can bet that, with Meta announcing major cutbacks, it’s not going to be giving up any revenue easily.

It’s early days, but this could be one to watch, as Meta potentially heads for a stand-off with publishers, in several regions, in the new year.

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