Guardian shuts down Facebook social reader

14.12.2012 - 12:43

From Monday 17 December, links on Facebook's Guardian app will direct users straight to the website to view articles. After losing millions of online users, the newspaper has decided to regain control over its content and stop using the so-called social reader  tool.

In November 2011 the Guardian launched a new Facebook app, a social news experience or “mini-newspaper” to make it easier for users of the social network to discover its content through their friends.

According to a blog post published on the Guardian site by product manager Anthony Sullivan, after the launch the tool generated “tremendous volumes of traffic.”

Over 12 million Facebook users installed the app and by April of this year, 6 million visitors were reading content within the service every month.

However, when Facebook decided to make changes to the way their apps work, the number of readers dropped to 2.5 million monthly users. Guardian readers began falling from about 600,000 average users a day to below the 200,000 level.

In April, Facebook changed its “recently read articles” module, which listed five headlines read by friends, to a small “trending articles” box that shows only one headline at a time. Therefore, Zuckerberg's company is the one that controls the platform and the algorithms, it doesn't consult the media.

This situation was one of the reasons why Guardian changed its mind about the benefits of allowing the giant social network to have so much control over its content.

“In the future, for example, users on our site may be able to ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with comment pieces, take part in polls or express their view on the likelihood of a football rumour coming true”, wrote Sullivan.

"The key thing is that the user will be in control and if they’re not interested in sharing it will not impact on their experience of accessing our content on”, he added.