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US news sites saw a double-digit decline in Facebook desktop traffic last quarter

By Minda Smiley | Reporter

August 17, 2016 | 3 min read

A number of top news sites in the US, including the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, experienced double-digit drops in Facebook desktop traffic last quarter, according to a recent report out of website traffic & mobile app analytics firm SimilarWeb.

A total of 22 publications saw Facebook desktop traffic drop at least 50 percent, according to SimilarWeb, something that it said “could be ominous news for publishers who may be forced to look at other channels in order to maintain and increase page views.” In the second quarter of this year, the New York Times’s fell by 25 percent, CNN’s fell by 33 percent, and the Washington Post's dropped 26 percent. Buzzfeed experienced a six percent dip in traffic while the Huffington Post saw a 21 percent drop.

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The drop in desktop traffic for US news sites could be a result of Facebook’s recent newsfeed algorithm change, which favors friend and family posts over those of publishers. While Facebook did say when it announced the change that it may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some publishers, the social media giant did not announce the change until late June, meaning it likely had a minimal impact on second quarter numbers.

Since 54.2 percent of Facebook users now access the social network exclusively from a mobile device, according to VentureBeat, the drop in desktop traffic could be a result of users increasingly accessing Facebook via mobile.

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