Last September, WaPo Labs (a division of The Washington Post Co.), launched the Washington Post social reader app to make reading and sharing news instant. Today, the app appears to be losing some of its steam. The social reader has upset many users as some people don’t like the fact that others can see what they are reading (a feature that can be hidden) and some are unhappy that users must authenticate the app before reading an article.
The required authentication has helped to make Social Reader one of the fastest growing apps ever. However, social news site BuzzFeed, has reported a dramatic decrease in app usage over the past month. Here’s a chart of the monthly active users for the Washington Post Social Reader app:
Other sites are seeing decreases as well. The Guardian has seen the daily average use plummet in April according to AppData.com stats:
Are people simply getting sick of the reader? Maybe. It also could be due to evolving Facebook app modules. Social Reader links are taking up significantly less space with the removal of profile icons and have been replaced with new functionality in some cases. Regardless of the cause, the WP Social Reader app is among the top losers this week, down nearly 5,000,000 users this week. For more information see Buzzfeed or AppData.
The TechCrunch post from Josh Constine, “Decline Of Reader Apps Likely Due To News Feed Changes, Shows Facebook Controls The Traffic Faucet,” he dives deeper into why the app use is dwindling. Constine also charts the exact launch of Trending Stories and the downfall of social reader. It is also keenly noted that other apps like Viddy and Social Reader (also with frictionless sharing) are on the upswing in usage.