Facebook has announced an update to users newsfeeds which aims to make posts and content from their friends and family more visible on their timelines.
The New York Times reports that Facebook has introduced a large range of changes to how their newsfeed operates. With more than two billion users, changes to the basic function of Facebook may be controversial but the latest update may be a relief to some, who argue that user’s newsfeeds should prioritize content shared by their friends and family above content from publishers and brands. This is one of the largest changes to the Facebook Newsfeed in years.
It’s expected that following the update, users will see fewer viral videos, news articles, and branded content. Facebook will now push posts that friends have commented on or liked to the top of the newsfeed, this is in an attempt by Facebook to increase the amount of content with “meaningful interactions” consumed by Facebook users. This decision was made after Facebook studied the sort of content that caused stress and upset amongst their users. The company decided to reduce the amount of “passive content” that users see on Facebook so that most of their time on the platform was spent interacting with those that they know.
“We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview. “We need to refocus the system.” Some have, however, worried that only showing content from close friends and family may reinforce certain biases or thought bubbles that people operate within — by only showing posts or videos and that reflect the similar view their friends and families likely have, users may become more entrenched in their own beliefs. Facebook, however, doesn’t seem quite so concerned with protecting the diversity of thought on their platform, their main aim is to make Facebook a more positive place.
David Ginsberg, the director of research at Facebook stated “When people are engaging with people they’re close to, it’s more meaningful, more fulfilling. It’s good for your well-being.” It’s expected that the change to Facebook’s newsfeed will have far-reaching effects on publishers and content creators, Adam Mosseri, the vice president of product management at Facebook states, “there will be anxiety” from publishers and partners who have already complained about the lack of revenue they receive from online platforms.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems unphased by these worries, however, his main aim now seems to be making Facebook a more positive place for users, “It’s important to me that when Max and August [his children] grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,” Zuckerberg said.