Facebook’s new test receives criticism from publishers

Facebook has launched a test to separate personal news from commercial posts on its News Feed in six small countries: Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka. For companies to appear in the personal feed, they are forced to pay for advertisements. The test has been vehemently criticised by news outlets and publishers, as media organisations were suddenly deprived of one of their most important publishing platforms. With regional elections in two weeks, A Slovakian journalist said ‘it’s not a good time to hide posts of serious news and show people a strange cocktail of random popular posts’. A Human Rights Watch representative pointed out that ‘Facebook takes [a] casual buzzsaw to publishers in a few countries that sound small and far away‘, and The Guardian writes that the test is taking place in ‘less developed countries that matter less to the company’s bottom line‘, while these are the countries that depend most on the stability of the media ecosystem.