Facebook to change its news feed to make it 'good for people'

Doug Carpenter
January 12, 2018

"The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it", said Facebook.

Zuckerberg said that his company was changing its goal from focusing on helping its users find relevant content to helping them have more meaningful social interactions. The company has long pushed users to spend more time on the social network.

Google, Twitter and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news - some of which was directed by Russian Federation - ahead of the 2016 U.S. election and in other countries. Publishers, nonprofits, small business and many other groups rely on the social network to reach people, so de-emphasising their posts will most likely hurt them.

With people no longer having as much content to passively consume in their News Feeds, Zuckerberg said he expects some measures of user engagement will decrease.

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media", Zuckerberg said.

The decision comes after a number of users complained of their News Feed being convoluted with public content, including brand promotions, media posts and so on, that are taking away the essence of one's personal space.

After the 2016 election, for instance, Zuckerberg initially shrugged off qualms about Facebook's effect on the outcome, even as outsiders pointed to the proliferation of fake news stories on the site that had attacked Hillary Clinton.

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.

The changes come as the company has faced increased criticism for the way its algorithms have allowed the spread of targeted disinformation aimed at disrupting USA elections, as well as more general criticisms that over-use of social media can contribute to depression.

Facebook has said before that it will emphasize personal connections over business pages and celebrities that people follow. "But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience", he wrote. That ranking system will be altered to prioritize posts that "spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people".

On Thursday, he said numerous discussions about Facebook's responsibilities had prompted the company "to get a better handle on some of the negative things that could happen in the system".

Zuckerberg added that his way of running Facebook has shifted since the birth of his two daughters, Maxima and August, in recent years.

"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us".

Last week, the Facebook CEO said he would start "fixing" the issues facing the social media giant, including the spread of abuse and hate and "defending against interference" from state governments.

"And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people".

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