On Facebook, you have probably seen a message that a friend has read a certain article. You click it to read the article and find yourself staring at a screen to download a social reader app for the publication. Some go ahead and sign up, others (yes, even this reporter) just skip it.
Apparently more people are beginning to do the latter, as publications with a social reader are now experiencing free-falling traffic. According to AppData, the Washington Post, the first place to sign onto Facebook's Social Reader, has lost about 10 million monthly users since April. The Guardian (U.K) has also lost 3 million monthly users.
So what does this mean? And why did the downward trend start in April?
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Buzzfeed claims it's because Social Reader is too "share-y" even for Facebook users, while others say it's because users dislike having to sign into a service to see what their friends are reading. It also coincides with Facebook's introduction of "Trending Articles," according to Forbes. From an AppData spokeswoman:
Facebook is constantly testing how social readers/open-graph-enabled apps appear , , ,This may impact the active user counts for all social reading apps, including others like The Guardian. For example, it recently started grouping social reader stories in a “Trending Articles” aggregation. Many Facebook users are still learning about social reading apps, deciding whether they want to use them or not, and whether they want to share activity with their friends. The peak growth of the Washington Post Social Reader may have come from users trying it out, and since then has come back down.