The number of visitors on the Huffington Post sharply dropped several days after it implemented a highly controversial new comment policy.
The number of global visitors dropped to 3 million on Christmas Day (2013), the lowest number the site had seen since April 24, 2011, according to figures from Quantcast.
A Huff Post representative didn’t respond to a request for internal numbers about how the new comment policy has impacted the number of visitors, traffic, and number of users.
The new policy requires users to have verified Facebook accounts in order to comment on the website. Verification on Facebook requires a mobile phone number. Longtime users of the website were told that they would be exempt from the new policy, but got a rude awakening on December 10 when they found this wasn’t the case.
The number of visitors to the website reached a recent peak on December 5, with 11.1 million. That was the week before the December 10 policy change. The numbers stayed high December 10-12, but after that the number of visitors to Huff Post continued dropping, for the most part. This is normal for some websites around Christmas time, but the drop was sharper than the same time period in 2012 and 2011 for Huff Post. It bottomed out at 3 million visitors on Christmas Day, December 25, the lowest number since April 21, 2011, which saw 2.18 million visitors.
The Christmas Day page views of 7.7 million was also the site’s lowest since April 24.
On many days before and after Christmas, the number of visitors and page views was higher in both 2011 and 2012, though not all. On December 14, for instance, the number of visitors were lower:
-2013: 5.74 million
-2012: 9.46 million
-2011: 7.30 million
December 21, another example:
-2013: 4.77 million
-2012: 6.85 million
-2011: 7.21 million
Tim McDonald, director of community at Huff Post, previously told Epoch Times via email that the new comment policy was made “to improve the overall quality of conversations” at the website “by improving the integrity of fellow community members and reducing the number of trolls and users with multiple accounts, thereby improving the ability to engage in meaningful discussions.”
Former users of the site don’t agree, saying trolling wasn’t a big problem and that being forced to lose anonymity is a form of censorship.
There’s no word yet from Huff Post on whether they’ve lost users from the change in policy, and, if so, how many they’ve lost.