Facebook announced a major update on the 11th of January that will put friends and family above pages or celebrities in a user’s news feed — and likely result in people spending less time on the leading social network..or not?
The change to the way Facebook ranks posts will put more weight on social interactions and relationships, according to News Feed product manager John Hegeman.
“This is a big change,” Hegeman was quoted saying..”People will actually spend less time on Facebook, but we feel good about that because it will make the time they do spend more valuable, and be good for our business in the end. We think people interaction is more important than passively consuming content,” Hegeman said. “This will be one of the more important updates that we have made.”
Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg has noted numerous times that bringing people together and strengthening communities in the real world are priorities for the company. “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content—posts from businesses, brands and media —is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
Facebook us beginning a year-long overhaul of its products and services to promote more meaningful personal connections, starting with a major change to the news feed. The move will prioritize posts by friends, family and groups, while curbing the reach of unpaid content shared by businesses and publishers,yet again. This is effectively a WIN-WIN for Facebook as it forces companies to spend more on boosting posts and advertising in order to gain awareness and engagement whilst at the same time exhibiting a more “personable” image to the millions of users that love the platform and use it daily.
Zuckerberg said Facebook users should now expect to see less content from businesses, brands, and media and more from friends, family, and groups. Factors such as the number of people who react to, comment on, or share posts will be less important than the content’s success at sparking a conversation. The changes are part of Facebook’s overhaul plan 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.” Facebook says it will actively demote popular clickbait posts and other articles and give precedence to posts from family and close connections.
The change will hit some publishers hard, especially those banking on video. Facebook has been steadily reducing companies’ reach in the news feed over the last year, and that’s now likely to become even more severe. That also means the years and millions of dollars brands and publishers have spent building up their presence may be for naught.
Thursday’s update effectively is a sign that Facebook does not want its core mission to be informing the public, but rather helping people build relationships and socialize with one another– a goal that might help Facebook sidestep some of the thorny challenges that come with being a public information service.
“At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections,” Zuckerberg wrote.
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