Facebook delivers the news publishers don't want to hear

Gulp. Media outlets are preparing for a drop in referral traffic after Facebook said it will prioritize posts from friends in News Feed over those by media outlets.

Social media managers and publishers are not happy after Facebook announced News Feed changes that could lead to a decline in reach and referral traffic.

Facebook announced the changes Wednesday morning in two blog posts. The company is altering its priorities so users don’t miss stories from friends, Facebook engineering director Lars Backstrom wrote in one post.

The explanation for the changes was a bit confusing. Backstrom referred to Facebook’s update from last April, which aimed to make sure stories posted directly by users’ friends were higher up in their News Feed.

"We are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed," he wrote.

Based on another blog post by Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of product management for News Feed, the latest changes mean Facebook posts by friends and family will get priority over news content.

But what has publishers and content creators really worried is what Backstrom noted lower in the blog post.

"Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some pages," he wrote.

The specific impact on a user’s distribution and metrics will vary depending on the audience, Backstrom added.

"If a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through page posts," he wrote.  

Here’s how some boldface names from the PR and media worlds reacted to the news on Twitter.

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