Facebook Pulled the Plug on Its Test of Separate News Feeds

The social network’s Explore alternative is also being discontinued

'People don’t want two separate feeds' Facebook

Bruce Springsteen sings that two hearts are better than one, but Facebook has come to the determination that one News Feed is better than two.

Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri announced in a Newsroom post Thursday that the social network is pulling the plug on the separate News Feed for posts from pages that it began testing in six countries last October, as well as the similar Explore alternative News Feed it began rolling out earlier that month.

Mosseri said recent changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm that prioritize posts from friends and family over those from publishers and pages “better address the feedback” Facebook has received from users.

He also detailed the reasons for discontinuing the test: “You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds. In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family … We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly. We’re acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them.”

Mosseri also announced that the Explore feed bookmark would be discontinued globally this week.

Facebook was testing the Explore alternative News Feed as early as last February, experimenting with an ad-free feed populated by articles, videos and photos from publishers.

The content in this feed was customized via an algorithm, and it included fare from pages that users may not have liked or followed, as it was based on what users might find more relevant and be most interested in.

Explore moved out of the test phase last October, with a spokesperson for the social network saying at the time, “We are beginning to roll out a complementary feed of popular articles, videos and photos, automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them.”

Later that month, Facebook began testing a division of News Feed into two separate feeds—one containing posts from friends and family, and the second comprised of posts from pages. The test was conducted in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia.

Mosseri said in a Facebook Media blog post at the time, “The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all of their distribution in News Feed or Explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation, but that was not our intention.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.