The Facebook Explore test is to see if Facebook users prefer two separate feeds: one for family and friends and one for news and businesses. It will be easier for users to connect with friends and family without the cluster of news articles and ads in the way.
The Explore tab consists of different Facebook pages users do not follow and will not read.
Publications’ unpaid content not advertised on the main Facebook feed will be placed in the Explore tab.
For the publications that pay to have their content advertised on the main news feed, their content will continue to be placed on the feed.
Facebook’s adoption of the new explore feed is due to the unsuccessful initiative, Instant Articles. Instant Articles is to speed up the loading process of articles on the mobile phone.
New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic adopted Instant Articles, but later New York Times stopped it due to the fact that the New York Times site was monetized better than the Instant Articles, Kinsey Wilson, executive vice president of product and technology at the Times, told Digiday. According to Digiday, Wilson said, “People were also more likely to subscribe to the Times if they came directly to the site rather than through Facebook,” and therefore, “for the Times, IA simply isn’t worth it.”
According to Digiday, Forbes and Quartz experimented with Instant Articles but faced a similar problem in lacking monetization.
From the failure of Instant Articles, Facebook is adopting the new explore feed to six countries, Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Cambodia and Bolivia.
If Facebook were to do this globally, they should collaborate with media outlets that publish their stories on the site that rely heavily on social media engagement such as Buzzfeed, Now This News and Teen Vogue. This way, it does not lead to companies opting out due to demonetization of articles and lack of social engagement.