Digiday+ Member Article

The tone for 2018 was set early on. At the beginning of January, Facebook used the annual media and tech gathering in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show to break the news to publishers: It was effectively breaking up with news be deprioritizing news in the, yes, News Feed. The move wasn’t a shock — this was one of our forecast items in last year’s Year in Preview issue — but it still landed with a thud, with one publishing executive giving the bleak assessment to Digiday that they were “losing hope.”

The algorithm changes, and typical Facebook gyrations in strategy and priorities in the face of a harsh investigation into its role is society and politics, rolled across the publishing landscape in the year leaving wreckage behind. Just a month after Facebook’s change, LittleThings, which had bragged of reaching a 50 million audience seemingly overnight thanks to Facebook, was no more. It was the first of many publishers to succumb, or at least reach dire straits, thanks to relying heavily on Facebook. Upworthy, another poster child for Facebook-charged publishing, was taken to the brink of collapse. Mashable was sold in a fire sale. The year ended with Mic, a millennial news publisher, evaporating after a key video programming deal with Facebook was canceled.

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