Facebook to show less content from publishers and brands

12 January, 2018, 12:11 | Author: Becky Perry
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The goal of the overhaul, ultimately, is for something less quantifiable that may be hard to achieve: Facebook wants people to feel positive, rather than negative, after visiting.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the company is overhauling the news feed to prioritize posts from family and friends, as opposed to ones from brands and publishers. Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the social network to spread divisive and inflammatory posts and ads to polarise the USA electorate. 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. In fact only a month ago Facebook announced how it plans to put a clamp on engagement-bait spam posts.

Pressure has been building on Facebook and its CEO as the toxic content flowing through Facebook - violent live videos, fabricated news articles and divisive messages from Russian operatives to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign - has been blamed for ripping holes in the social fabric.

In a blog post, Facebook argued that researchers had found connecting with friends and family on social media could be beneficial while passively consuming articles and videos was not.

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 USA election and in other countries. Live videos, the company says, often generate more organic interactions. 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. More recently, he began signalling that Facebook was rethinking what it shows people on the site.

"By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down", added Mr Zuckerberg. "You pick a friend for lots of different reasons", he said.

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That has shifted the balance "away from the most important thing Facebook can do - help us connect with each other".

"This big wave of public content has really made us reflect: What are we really here to do?"

Zuckerberg said he was now focusing his company around the new approach. In a post published yesterday (Jan. 11), CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote the company's objective was no longer primarily to surface "relevant content" for Facebook's 2 billion users, but to prioritize meaningful social interactions that benefit them.

It's no secret that Facebook is unhappy with how the News Feed works. The social network wants to reduce what Zuckerberg called "passive content" - videos and articles that ask little more of the viewer than to sit back and watch or read - so that users' time on the site is well spent.

In an exclusive video interview with CNN Tech's Laurie Segall, Facebook VP Adam Mosseri described the move as a "rebalancing" of how Facebook's algorithms rank items in the main feed.

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