‘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’.
This is Mark Zuckerberg’s way of telling us – your content had better be engaging, or else it won’t be seen.
For businesses on Facebook, it means you may see the popularity of posts decreasing a result.
Changes to the algorithm that operates the newsfeed will take effect over the coming weeks, so speed is essential if you want to maintain your presence.
It marks a priority for Facebook to ensure the site is good for people’s wellbeing.
If public content is to be promoted, it will now have to be seen to encourage community interaction – as happens within the tight-knit groups that discuss TV programmes and sports.
Another example given by Facebook was live video feeds, which tend to generate more discussion.
“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” added Zuckerberg.
“But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”
Zuckerberg has also promised to ‘fix’ Facebook in 2018, saying he wanted to ensure that users were protected from abuse and improve the quality of time spent on the site.
He’s also pledged to defend Facebook from nation states in the battle against ‘fake news’.
Facebook hasn’t been very clear about what sort of discussions the site’s updated algorithms will prioritise – so we’ll be monitoring the situation closely.
It could be the most controversial content that generates heated conversations, or simply content pulled from group pages where users engage the most on specific topics.
At its core, Facebook connects people and enables them to share what’s happening in their lives and upload pictures.
So, in a way, this is Facebook getting back to basics and making news feeds about what your friends are doing and thinking, rather than articles they have shared.
For the first time, Facebook is going against one of its core values, that any change to the network must improve engagement. This move, Facebook concedes, will likely lead to people spending less time on the site.
But after a turbulent 2017, Zuckerberg is potentially learning that in the wake of the fake news backlash, and a platform overflowing with clickbait, not all engagement is good engagement.
Faced with the enormous task of having to do more to moderate the platform, Facebook seems to have concluded that a news free-for-all is more trouble than it’s worth.
For news outlets, this might be bad news: a lot of traffic comes from Facebook. With less prominence, some campaigns may achieve much less visibility.
This change will cost Facebook money.
Zuckerberg warned investors at the end of last year that combating fake news would hurt the firm’s bottom line, and it will be interesting to see how this affects the business going forward.
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