Facebook has announced a major overhaul of its News Feed to prioritize posts from users’ family and friends. At the same time, the adjusted algorithm will downgrade content from businesses, brands, and media outlets.
In a post on the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the focus was changing from helping users find relevant content on Facebook to making sure they have more meaningful social interactions, which means more baby pictures and food shots, and fewer news stories.
“Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too,” said Zuckerberg.
The CEO's words appear to be in stark contrast to Facebook’s previous goals that put user engagement above all else. But the fake news controversy, foreign governments’ election meddling, and the company’s admission that too much social media can be detrimental to people’s mental health have seen it pivot and start prioritizing interaction between users.
Facebook has been reducing companies’ presence in the News Feed these last few years. In April 2015 and June 2016, it announced changes to the algorithm that would surface more content from family and friends.
Those who still want to see posts from their favorite pages at the top of their News Feed can keep using the “See First” option on a page's 'Following' tab, while any content that receives plenty of engagement—though not those guilty of engagement bait—will be given more visibility.
Facebook's shares have fallen 4 percent on the back of Zuckerberg's announcement.