With Meta going all-in on the metaverse, Instagram relentlessly cloning TikTok and Twitter in chaos, the days of reliable social media publishing strategies are over. Esther Kezia Thorpe rounds up the year in platforms as part of our Media Moments 2022 report.

It was inevitable that over time, we would see platforms we’d considered essential to everyday life eventually fade. What we didn’t anticipate was how much change could happen in just twelve months. As always with this chapter, we’re focusing on the platform news this year which affects publishers.

Meta (formerly known as Facebook)

The higher they rise, the harder they fall. Before Musk’s buyout of Twitter, Meta had without doubt had the roughest year of all the platforms. In February, it suffered the biggest one-day loss in history for a US company when shares fell 26.4%, wiping $230 billion off the stock. The tumble came after it reported its first ever drop in daily user numbers.

Things showed no sign of improving as the year went on. July marked Meta’s first ever reported drop in revenue, and by the end of October, shares had tumbled to their lowest level in nearly four years following a ‘train wreck’ earnings report. In November, it announced layoffs affecting 11,000 employees – around 13% of its total workforce.

There are multiple reasons for Meta’s annus horribilis. Economic pressures, a push towards short-form video  and a lack of real innovation have affected both ad revenue and user behaviour. But its bet on the metaverse, which it committed to in late 2021, has cost the company dear this year.

For the first 9 months of the year, Meta lost $9.4 billion on its metaverse unit Reality Labs. It expects the unit to have significantly wider operating losses next year, with its virtual space Horizon Worlds attracting fewer than 200,000 monthly active users.

Brands may have bought into the hype around the metaverse, but publishers have been much more cautious. Vogue held its Vogue Business and Yahoo Metaverse Experience on metaverse platform Journee earlier in the year, and Forbes launched an event including an NFT gallery and a yacht in Sandbox in November.  Lessons have been learned from the last decade, and most are now waiting to see if audiences take to the technology before leaping in. 

As well as battling with declining users on Facebook, the company has also been struggling with Instagram. In a bid to keep up with the meteoric rise of TikTok, Meta began cloning its features and pushing users to create and view Reels – its own short-form video product. This led to a huge celebrity-driven backlash over the summer. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri rolled back some of the changes but made it clear that the app’s future would continue to be steered towards video.

As a result of all this, Meta has had a brutal cull of products and features. Support for Instant Articles will end in early 2023, although few publishers are bothered by the news. Its off-platform newsletter product Bulletin, launched last summer, has also been shuttered.

In July, Meta announced it would stop paying US publishers for news content featured in its News tab. Many 3-year deals brokered in 2019 have now come to an end as the company shifts resources away from news products. These deals were worth over $10 million to the Wall Street Journal, $3 million to CNN and over $20 million to the NYT.

Legislative attempts to coerce Meta into paying are unlikely to be effective. Earlier this year, Canada said it would introduce an Australia-style bill to force Google and Meta to pay publishers. In response, Meta said it may block sharing of news content on Facebook in Canada.

News is a low priority for Meta in the coming years. They have made it clear they would rather cut off sharing of news articles on their platforms rather than pay any sort of licensing or other fee to publishers.

Listen: Social media consultant and industry analyst Matt Navarra joined us on the podcast to discuss how the major social media platforms’ relationship with publishers has fared after yet another tumultuous year. Listen below, or search Media Voices wherever you find podcasts.


The situation around Twitter is still developing at a rapid pace following Musk’s takeover of the platform at the end of October. Thousands of staff – over half the total company headcount – have been laid off, and there is concern that the site is moments away from failing as key maintenance departments have gone.

There is also a great deal of confusion about Musk’s priorities for the site. Its product roadmap has been binned, with newsletter platform Revue and long-form writing product Notes just one of the many features being sunsetted by the end of the year. Ad-free articles, one of the perks of Twitter Blue after its acquisition last year of Scroll, have also ended.

Publishers and journalists who have built up large followings on Twitter are now facing the very real prospect of its collapse, or as recent weeks have highlighted, potential bans for challenging Musk. These actions are likely to have significant repercussions for how journalists are advised to use platforms, and raise serious ethical questions.

Mastodon has emerged as an early alternative, but with a more complicated user experience and teething issues around a user influx, it won’t be a viable replacement for many. It is a harsh reminder once again to not be reliant on just one platform to reach audiences.

Other platforms

TikTok has continued growing this year, and is expected to reach 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. Many publishers now have a presence on the platform, including The Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Guardian and the BBC. Behind the scenes content and a focus on the people behind the stories have been the most successful, rather than studio-quality video. 

There is a likely reckoning on the horizon for TikTok’s inaction over misinformation, but the presence of trusted publishers on the platform can be a help in providing accurate information and commentary.

Google and Apple have been notable this year for a lack of big publisher-related announcements. The former has delayed the phasing out of third-party cookies until 2024, buying the market more time to find an alternative. Following demands from the EU Commission earlier in the year, Google has agreed to pay news publishers to display ‘extended’ snippets of news stories in search results. It has also made some SEO changes this year, prioritising ‘Helpful Content’ and rewarding quality publishers.  

Apple meanwhile continues to grow its share of the ad market, thanks to some self-serving privacy changes. It is reportedly on track to make $4.4 billion in digital ad revenue this year.

This chapter is an extract from our Media Moments 2022 report, sponsored by Poool and published in partnership with What’s New in Publishing. To read the full report including case studies, key facts and more, please fill in the form below:

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