Facebook will focus on friends over publishers in the News Feed
Facebook just announced that it will make sweeping changes to the News Feed, the primary place where users find content on the social network. Over the next few months, users will see “more from your friends, family and groups” and ” less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” so says CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The company says that it has heard from users that the so-called “public content” is crowding out “personal moments” that the Facebook platform was built on.
Zuckerberg notes that “it’s easy to understand how we got here,” saying that there’s been an explosion of video and other types of public content that has “exploded” on Facebook in recent years. Because of that, he said that “the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.” As such, it’s time to re-balance what people see when they visit the site.
In addition to focusing on interactions between friends rather than media or businesses, Facebook will prioritize posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions.” To achieve that, the company’s algorithms will try and predict posts that you’ll want to interact with your friends about and show them higher in the News Feed.
As a result, Facebook Pages used by businesses and media will be de-prioritized; the company freely admits that reach, video watch time and referral traffic will likely decrease. Somewhat ironically, though, Facebook notes that live video is a strong driver of engagement and discussion — six times greater than regular video. As such, those types of videos may still be popping in your feed, even from Pages.
Zuckerberg cited a recent study the company conducted about how using Facebook can correlate to your moods. Specifically, the study indicated that when using social media to make connections with people they care about, people come away feeling good about themselves. Conversely, passive reading of articles and watching videos can provide the opposite effect. Zuckerberg notes that’s the case even if the content in question is entertaining and informative.
Ultimately, Facebook seems to be moving back towards what made it such a success in the first place: person-to-person connections. Indeed, he’s even positioning a recalibration of Facebook as something of a legacy for him. Mike Issac at the New York Times reports that he’s been rethinking how he views and will run Facebook since having children, even if it’ll be detrimental to the company in the short term. “It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,” Zuckerberg said to the NYT. The Facebook CEO promised last week that his goal for 2018 was to fix many of the problems the company has been dealing with in recent years, and it looks like he’s not wasting any time to get to work.