Facebook CEO unveils news feed changes, says engagement may fall

Facebook CEO unveils news feed changes, says engagement may fall

Facebook CEO unveils news feed changes, says engagement may fall

I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions. "It's good for your well-being".

Yesterday, Facebook made a major change to News Feed to prioritize friends and family.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said community feedback has shown that public content has been "crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other".

Facebook first launched back in 2004 as a way for Harvard students to connect with each other. It also aims to prioritise posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with its News Feed values. In fact only a month ago Facebook announced how it plans to put a clamp on engagement-bait spam posts.

The social media company would be tweaking the algorithm governing which content shows up in user's newsfeeds, drastically reducing the amount of content from brands and publishers in favor of more content from their Facebook friends.

Another wave of criticism pummeling Facebook: that the company's products exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being. Take, for instance, the Serbian editor of a non-profit investigative journalism organisation who wrote an op-ed in the New York Times decrying the change as detrimental to Serbia's already shaky democracy.

Advertising on the social network will be unaffected by the changes, John Hegeman, a Facebook vice president, told the news agency in an interview. The Wall Street Journal also reports (paywall) that news outlets' status in public polling and readers' willingness to pay for subscriptions may be considerations for favoring that content, although the company did not confirm this. The changes are part of Facebook's redesign to increase "meaningful interactions" and reduce "passive consumption of low-quality content-even if it decreases some of our engagement metrics in the short term".

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The company has been criticized for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in people's feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election, as well as political discourse in many countries.

"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.

While the move was anticipated, Thursday's announcement filled in more of the details.

There will be fewer posts from brands, pages and media companies and more from people.

Last week, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook about his goals for 2018, including "making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent" and adding that "this will be a serious year of self-improvement and I'm looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together".

The announcement is consistent with tests to the News Feed that Facebook ran a year ago, which moved all Page content (from the likes of businesses, brands, and media) from the News Feed to the Explore tab.

"Just because a tool can be used for good and bad, that doesn't make the tool bad - it just means you need to understand what the negative is so that you can mitigate it", he said.

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