These were the top publishers on Facebook in May 2020

June 23, 2020

Written by Benedict Nicholson

We looked back at the top publishers on Facebook for the month of May, with some publishers still seeing record engagement. 

After two record breaking months in March and April, May seemed a comparative slowdown, though if you were to compare any of the numbers to any month before March of this year they would still be some of the biggest we’ve seen.

Once again, we used our API to gather these rankings, which you can read about on our developer hub. This analysis includes English-language content from publishers, ranked by Facebook likes, shares, and comments to their web content, ranked by domain. Additionally, these rankings do not include media natively uploaded to a Facebook Page, such as a Facebook video.

Here are some of the key takeaways: 

  • The Daily Mail remained at the top of our rankings with 97 million engagements
  • CNN took second spot, though with fewer engagements than in April
  • Fox News climbed three places to complete the top three

Let’s take a closer look.

Top publishers in May

In May, the top publishers had fallen away a little from the highs they saw in March and April, but the top publisher The Daily Mail still garnered almost 100 million engagements.

Histogram showing the top pubishers on Facebook in May 2020, ranked by engagement

This shows a huge amount of public interest in The Daily Mail’s stories, as well as those of CNN, who were just behind them with 96 million engagements. These two sat considerably ahead of their competitors. The next most engaged, Fox News and NBC, were both in the 80-90 million engagement range. No other publisher received more than 70 million engagements. 

Mainstream publishers mostly made up the top ten with the likes of the BBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post all featuring. The Daily Wire climbed four places from last month to take seventh spot, with 12 million more engagements than in April. 

In terms of what drove engagement for the top publishers, there was a move away from the wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage that we have seen in previous months. 

For The Daily Mail, it was the death of George Floyd in police custody, and the ensuing protests, that was the center of most of the highly engaged coverage. Their most shared article, with more than seven million engagements, was a video of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while he said he couldn’t breathe. 

Five of the ten most engaged articles for the publishers were related in some way to Floyd’s killing, including Chauvin’s murder charge. One was also about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man shot dead while out for a run. Other stories included the death of Jerry Stiller, coronavirus recoveries passing one million, and innovation in COVID-19 masks to allow for lip reading.

CNN’s most engaged stories were about Floyd’s death, but their top ten covered coronavirus and the death of Ahmaud Arbery as well. The publisher’s most engaged story was about the Michigan sheriff who joined BLM protestors in a ‘parade’, while their own crew’s arrest covering the Minneapolis protests saw more than 3 million engagements. Other top stories included the killing of a security guard in an altercation over a mask, and a black light experiment showing how viruses such as COVID-19 can spread in restaurants.

Fox News’ most engaged articles had much more varied themes. The top article for the publisher, with almost six million engagements, was about President Trump declaring houses of worship ‘essential’ amidst the coronavirus pandemic and ordering them open. Only two of the publisher’s ten most engaged articles were about the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, one about celebrities donating to bail funds, and one about Chauvin being charged with third-degree murder

But what about the top articles overall? 

Top articles on Facebook in May 2020

The top article of the month of May came from Forbes, and was about police officers in various cities taking a knee or marching with protestors in marches against police brutality across the nation, driven by the Black Lives Matter movement. This received more than 15 million engagements, double the engagement of any of the other articles.

Table showing the most engaged articles on Facebook in May 2020, ranked by engagement

Unsurprisingly, the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the protests that followed, dominated the most shared articles in May, with six of the fifteen most engaged stories focused on the topic. 


Other stories that resonated last month included the deaths of Jerry Stiller and Little Richard, as well as the arrival of the so-called “murder hornets” in the US, which received more than 3 million engagements in both the Denver Post and The New York Times.

Top 25 publishers in May 2020

The chart below shows the top 25 publishers of May, ranked by engagement, alongside the total number of articles written.

Chart showing the 25 most engaged publishers on Facebook in May 2020

Engagement was slightly down across the board among the top 25 publishers, with the number 25 publisher receiving 23 million engagements in May. In April, this number was 27.5 million. 

Risers in the table included NPR and ABC News, while Newsweek, MSNBC, and CBS News all fell down the list slightly. 

If you want to track the top stories and publishers yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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