Published: Sun, March 04, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Facebook scraps idea of splitting newsfeed

Facebook scraps idea of splitting newsfeed

When news about the split news feed first surfaced, it sparked concerns about the growing power of the social media giant, and how publishers would be affected.

Test drew major criticism from publishers in countries like Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook's head of News Feed, said in a blogpost announcing the change that the experiment had been motivated by "consistent feedback" that people wanted to see more from friends and family and less from media organizations and businesses on the News Feed.

According to Facebook, user surveys reveal people are "less satisfied" with the posts they're seeing, and having two feeds failed to help them better connect with friends and family. Facebook has been criticized many times in the past for its role in spreading fake news, which has led the company to admit it can sometimes be damaging to democracy.

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Citizens in these countries saw posts from official news organisations removed from their own news feeds as part of a desire to focus on content written by friends and family. Although people want to see less posts from Pages, the idea of completely separating Pages and individuals has proved to be a step too far. It is also shutting down its "Explore" tab, a section of the app where users could find public content from brands or publishers they didn't follow.

We've asked Facebook for comment and will update this article with any response. Its most recent News Feed update had a similar objective to the now-defunct test: The change was made to show people more stuff from their friends and family, and less from brands and publishers. Nowadays, Facebook will prioritize specific news outlets that the company deems trustworthy. It also says users complained it was harder to access important information and that Facebook didn't clearly communicate the fact that it was a test. Facebook regularly trials new features by launching them to a small selection of users. It was intended as a different way for people to consume news in the six countries it was tested - but ended up primarily encouraging them to read false stories.

"We concluded that Explore isn't an effective way for people to discover new content on Facebook", Mosseri wrote.

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