A major project from World Net Daily tracking the performance of conservative sites on Facebook shows massive drops in engagement over four months — evidence that challenges the social network’s efforts to reassure conservatives that it is not biased against them.
The study shows Breitbart outperforming its competitors in Facebook engagement by a considerable margin (in January, our engagement was at an astonishing 100 percent). But it also shows engagement for all conservative sites has dropped over four months despite a rise in Facebook fans during the same period.
WND used user data from Facebook to track the performance of their own site, as well as a number of conservative competitors including Breitbart, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Washington Free Beacon, and The Blaze between January and May 2016.
In that four-month period, the data shows that despite a rise in the number of “likes,” or fans of all the tracked conservative sites, the number of engagements (the number of people who see posts, react to, share, or click on a post) went down.
Breitbart, for example, had 1.6 million likes and an engagement rate of 100 percent at the start of 2016. By May, our likes had gone up to 1.9 million — but engagements had dropped to 60 percent.
Similar patterns were observed for all other conservative sites tracked by WND. In January, The Blaze had 1.8 million likes and an engagement rate of 27.59 percent. By May, they had a modest increase in likes to 1.9 million — but their engagement dropped more than ten points to 15.79 percent.
The Washington Examiner saw its engagement rate drop by more than half, from 43.29 percent in January to 19.46 percent in May. So too did The Daily Caller, which went from 41.58 percent engagement in January to 13.74 percent four months later.
(Image via World Net Daily)
This news, which suggests that it’s becoming harder for fans of conservative media on Facebook to engage with our posts, will cast a shadow over Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s widely-publicized attempts to build bridges with conservatives following damaging leaks to Gizmodo alleging that the company discriminates against conservative news topics in its “Trending News” feature.
Until now, it seemed as if Zuckerberg was getting his way, with a host of conservative figures coming out in support of the company following their meeting with him and other Facebook executives earlier in the week. If this new information doesn’t change their tune, it certainly won’t improve the company’s trust with ordinary conservative users.