Writing for The Verge, Casey Newton reports that publishers are abandoning Facebook’s Instant Articles format:
Two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company’s algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook’s News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.
In discussions with Facebook executives, former employees, publishers, and industry observers, a portrait emerges of a product that never lived up to the expectations of the social media giant, or media companies. After scrambling to rebuild their workflows around Instant Articles, large publishers were left with a system that failed to grow audiences or revenues.
Building a business on top of someone else’s platform offers little control or visibility—and ties your fortunes to their priorities, not your own. Newton writes that many publishers are instead throwing in with Google’s AMP platform, which feels like a frying-pan-to-fire maneuver.