In what could bring changes to law firm publishing, Mike Isaac, Katie Robertson and Nico Grant of The New York Times report major online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter (now known as X), and Google are distancing themselves from news content, signaling a significant shift in the already complex relationship between tech giants and the news industry.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s top news executive, announced her departure this month, closely followed by Twitter’s decision to remove headlines from its platform. Even Google, which has been a reliable partner to news publishers for the last decade, has become increasingly inconsistent. The tech giant has downsized its news teams and reduced traffic to some publishers.

Why the change? Adam Mosseri of Instagram and Elon Musk of Twitter’s successor, X, have openly stated that hosting news often leads to polarized debates and has thus making it more of a liability than an asset.

The shift is alarming for publishers who have relied on these platforms for web traffic and advertising revenue. Data from Similarweb reveals that top news sites saw web traffic from social networks drop from 11.5% in September 2020 to just 6.5% by September this year.

The Wall Street Journal noticed a decline starting about 18 months ago, reports The Times. “We are at the mercy of social algorithms and tech giants for much of our distribution,” Emma Tucker, The Journal’s editor in chief, told a WSJ newsroom.

Why the possible impact to lawyers? Law firms have published close to one million open digital legal articles or blog posts. With the advent of social media, distribution of this content moved from RSS and email to social media.

By virtue of social media’s publishing of an insightful lawyer’s writing the lawyer’s reputation grew geometrically. Social algorithms pushed this reputation and their content visibility higher.

Will the online platforms reduce the exposure of legal publishing? It’s possible as the social platforms reduce their news staff – even though though a lawyer’s content may not be as controversial to some as that coming from general media.

LinkedIn is still here for publishing, but I wonder if the joy we receive from a growing engagement on LinkedIn represents more of a discussion among friends than the national newspaper like benefits of Google, Facebook and even, Twitter.

I’d also note that that I picked up this piece from the NYT on Twitter where it was shared by Katie Robertson and NYT Tech.