Facebook is testing a new system that splits its News Feed into two. The experimental News Feed separates Page-generated posts from ads and posts from friends. Facebook is testing this in six countries, namely: Bolivia, Guatemala, Cambodia, Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

Last week, Facebook officially launched its secondary News Feed called Explore. The feed features posts from Facebook pages that users don’t follow. Meanwhile, the regular News Feed continues to show posts from both friends and Pages. However, it was discovered by Denník N editor and social media manager Filip Struhárik that that wasn’t the case with the six countries listed above.

According to Struhárik, Facebook has begun testing removing posts from Pages in the News Feed and placed them in a separate feed. This means that the Facebook News Feed is no longer a free way for publishers to gain an organic reach on the social media website. The News Feed only shows posts created by friends along with ads.

For users who aren’t seeing posts from Pages they follow, those posts can still be viewed on the old Pages Feed. The Pages Feed is tucked away on the side menu of the Facebook News Feed. This is also where the new Explore Feed can be accessed by users.

“Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. Reach of several asked Facebook Pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days,” Struhárik said in his Medium post. “Sixty biggest Slovak media pages have 4 times fewer interactions (likes, comments, shares) since the test. It looks like the effect in Guatemala and Cambodia is the same.”

The numbers that Struhárik provided appear to be accurate as it was also confirmed by the analytics service CrowdTangle, according to Engadget. Struhárik continued to follow up on this Facebook test and discovered that the biggest Slovak media sites weren’t affected significantly. However, it was affecting smaller media sites, which were seeing a drop in traffic.

It’s too early to tell how this will impact other media Pages on Facebook as it’s only being tested in those six markets. However, if this new system is rolled out more widely, it could seriously impact publishers and other outlets that heavily rely on Facebook traffic to gain substantial revenue. “The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditized content aiming for the biggest reach,” Enders Analysis senior research analyst Matt Littunen told The Guardian.

Facebook's head of News Feed Adam Mosseri has already published a lengthly blog post explaining the test. Apparently, the company has no current plans on rolling it out globally.

There have been a number of reports about a test we’re running in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. Some have interpreted this test as a future product we plan to deliver globally. We currently have no plans to roll this test out further.

The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention.

Facebook Facebook has begun testing in six countries a separate feed for posts created by Pages. Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic