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Why did Facebook kill all the Social Readers?

May 8th, 2012

It’s boom and bust for social readers! Just weeks ago, they were gaining tens of millions of readers. Now usage of them is massively declining. Is it because users are revolting against “frictionless sharing”?

Josh Constatine at TechCrunch does not think so. He guesses that Facebook’s new aggregration as “trending” is the new culprit. His main piece is argument is the precipitous decline inconsistent with a mass exodus. But in fact, such declines, aka “jumping the shark“, are highly common in low engagement but viral apps.

But if Facebook was seeing such tremendous click through rates from friends of social reader users, why would they shut the social readers down? Facebook must have seen something else very troubling in their data: mass uninstalling from sharers. I believe that they are trying to protect users from over-sharing, in order to preserve the dream of frictionless sharing.

No doubt their actions to limit the exposure has increased the decline of traffic, but the root cause must undoubtable be based on high install rates. And no doubt developers must understand that Facebook will open and shut viral channels to balance the interests of both sharers and their friends.

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