Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Facebook overhauls News Feed to focus on what friends and family share

Facebook overhauls News Feed to focus on what friends and family share

In a Facebook post on 12 January, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, confirmed the social media giant is decreasing the amount of public content from media publishers and brands in favour of prioritising friends and family posts in users' news feeds.

The company plans to give more prominence to status updates and photos shared by users' friends and family while at the same time playing down news articles or anything published by brands, company official said. "But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable". But, he says, "if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term, too".

Facebook, which owns four of the world's most popular smartphone apps including Instagram, has for years prioritized material that its complex computer algorithms think people will engage with through comments, "likes" or other ways of showing interest.

Facebook's News Partnerships team is spearheading the experiment, employing both human curators and machine learning to populate the content in the new sections.

In a blog post that accompanied Zuckerberg's message, Facebook head of News Feed Adam Mosseri warned that public Facebook Pages could see their reach, watch time and referral traffic decrease.

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Facebook and its social media competitors have been inundated by criticism that their products reinforce users' views on social and political issues and lead to addictive viewing habits, raising questions about possible regulation and the businesses' long-term viability. On the other hand, passively scrolling through social media does not.

Early Facebook executive and former vice president of growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, also accused Facebook of creating "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops" that are "destroying how society works".

Some publishers say they were out of the loop on the changes that Facebook is making, despite the social network's efforts over the past year to build stronger ties with industry. Facebook, he said, had closely studied what kinds of posts had stressed or harmed users.

John Hegeman, vice president of product management for Facebook's news feed, shrugged off the business implications of people watching fewer videos.

The news feed ranking update, which is set to roll out globally in the coming weeks, is expected to support that goal. That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. It's not clear how Facebook's latest change will affect those of you who've chosen that option, but it's worth a try.

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