While Facebook prepares to offer readers a way to subscribe and pay for news directly from inside its app, the social network continues to tinker with how it presents publishers’ content elsewhere. In the latest development, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Facebook has removed Instant Articles — Facebook’s self-hosted, faster-loading article format for mobile — from Messenger.
“As we continue to refine and improve Instant Articles — and in order to have the greatest impact on people and publishers — we’re focusing our investment in Instant Articles in the Facebook core app and are no longer offering Instant Articles in Messenger,” a spokesperson said. “We believe that Messenger is an exciting channel for new and interesting news consumption experiences, including the opportunity to build unique messaging experiences in Messenger that many publishers (including TechCrunch) have executed successfully via the Messenger Platform.”
Instant Articles was a pared-down article format launched by the social network in 2015 with the aim of speeding up page load time by ten times compared to the mobile web, thereby cutting down the number of people dropping off when reading on mobile devices. (The “Instant” feel and performance is something that Facebook appears keen to develop: just this week it started to test Instant Videos.)
Originally designed to run in the News Feed, a year ago Facebook expanded Instant Articles to Messenger as part of a wider strategy to enhance content on its popular messaging platform, which today has over 1.2 billion users.
But while Instant Articles does what its name suggests, there have been some teething pains with the format.
Several high profile publications and publishers, including the Guardian, Forbes, Hearst, The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, CBS News, NPR, Financial Times, and VICE News either pulled, scaled back, or never participated in Instant Articles in the first place because of the lack of monetization on the platform. There have also been issues with traffic reporting with the format.