Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Facebook makes friends a priority in the News Feed

Facebook makes friends a priority in the News Feed

Instead, Facebook will highlight posts between friends - for example, a photo of your dog, or a status update that many of your friends have commented on or liked. In this charged atmosphere, agents working for a Kremlin-linked company, the Internet Research Agency, disseminated content that reached an estimated 126 million users in the United States in 2016, Facebook revealed to Congress during hearings on the matter previous year.

Matt Navarra, director of social media at technology news site The Next Web, said people who used the platform to connect with friends and family were the "biggest victor out of this" but added that brands that relied heavily on Facebook for audience would be anxious about how it affected their ability to generate revenue. "As we take this journey together and focus on content that our community can connect around, we'll work on providing you and your clients with best practices, insights, and tools to help them understand and create content that promotes these meaningful interactions on Facebook".

The company says that's similar to how people make friends and interact with each other offline. Zuckerberg acknowledged that he expects this will mean people spend less time on Facebook, but he hopes the time they do spend "will be more valuable". And it's a lot like when Facebook published a set of "core values" that year to emphasise that "friends and family come first". In that vein, it's unclear for publishers how Facebook's rules on "meaningful" content will affect them.

Facebook obviously believes most of its users enjoy keeping up with what's happening in their social circles, even if the material being shared mostly revolves around parties, vacations and other fun times while omitting life's inevitable challenges and tedium.

"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", he said.

Facebook has pushed video in its news feed in recent years, prompting many publishers to hire staff in this field in what was termed a "pivot to video".

A study published in August by NetBase found that Facebook is still the preferred brand of Internet users.

The trend away from business posts is not new, he said.

"It's obvious that the days of getting exposure as a business on Facebook are coming to an end", said Michael Stelzner, the CEO of social media marketing company Social Media Examiner. But Thursday's shift goes beyond previous changes by prioritizing posts that spur substantive interactions between people. In the company's early years, the news feed was a scrolling update about the personal activities of friends and family members. Fake news has proliferated. Zuckerberg later said he had been too hasty and dismissive of the concerns.

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent. "They don't think there are any real cracks in the Facebook story".

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". Sharing these moments together, Facebook reasons, deepens the connections between people, even if they can't always be together offline.

Facebook had a very bad year with the public, politicians and former employees. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

"Facebook is already experiencing declines in consumption and the company is responding with these changes today", Wieser said.

But Zuckerberg and Facebook are no longer happy with the way Facebook is used right now to disseminate content and the fact that he's announcing a significant makeover should not go unnoticed.

"It's important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world", Zuckerberg said.

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