Facebook’s Instant Articles could lead to traffic losses for publishers

You might have heard: Facebook’s Instant Articles are now available to all iPhone users, and Instant Articles for Android will be launched later this year

But did you know: As Facebook’s Instant Articles become available to more users, questions are being raised about the future of links on Facebook and whether its algorithm will prioritize Instant Articles over links to other sites, which could lead to a drop in traffic back to publishers’ websites. Publishers are finding that Instant Articles are more likely to be shared than other links, and sharing is one of the signals Facebook’s algorithm uses to rank stories in the news feed. The Washington Post, which is publishing all of its stories as Instant Articles, has seen a drop in Facebook referral traffic, but executive director for emerging news products Cory Haik says the losses are offset by the number of people reading its stories as Instant Articles: “We’re swapping one form of traffic for another.”

+ Facebook’s Instant Articles and Twitter’s Moments are accelerating the death of the link, Mathew Ingram writes: “Is the death of the hyperlink something we should be concerned about? Does it matter that growing numbers of users, particularly on mobile devices, never actually go to the source of the news they are reading?” (Fortune)