Facebook plans changes to make News Feed more 'meaningful'

 abc.net.au  1/12/2018 2:51:02 AM 

Updated January 12, 2018 14:55:34

Facebook will change the way it does business to emphasise "meaningful social interactions" rather than the type of News Feed scrolling that critics say is addictive, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says.

Key points:

  • Facebook users to see more posts from friends and family and less from public brands or businesses
  • Changes are meant to provide a more meaningful experience
  • It will likely reduce the amount of time users spend on the platform, but Facebook CEO hopes that time will be "more valuable"

Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook that the changes would be "major" and lead to a short-term drop in the time spent on the network, but that it would be better for users and for the business over the long term.

The social media platform boss said his company felt a responsibility to ensure that their users not only enjoyed the product, but were not being negatively impacted by it.

"The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our wellbeing," Zuckerberg wrote.

"We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health.

"On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they're entertaining or informative — may not be as good."

Zuckerberg wrote that users had complained that content from the wider public was pushing aside posts and photographs from friends and family.

"Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years," he said.

"Since there's more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other."

Users should see the change across the next few months.

"The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups," he said.

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.

"And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

Facebook recorded more than 2 billion users per month during 2017 and Zuckerberg expects the time users spend on the platform will drop.

"But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable," he said.

"And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too."

The latest move represents a major shift, one intended to highlight the posts users are most likely to engage with rather than passively consume.

There will be fewer videos, which Facebook considers "passive".

The changes won't affect ads and will likely hurt businesses that want to reach followers without paying to advertise.

The Facebook changes come days after an open letter by major investors in Apple's iPhone, which encouraged the tech giant to find ways to cut ways to combat addiction among children.

ABC/AP/Reuters

Topics: social-media, computers-and-technology, internet-technology, science-and-technology, mental-health, internet-culture, information-and-communication, united-states

First posted January 12, 2018 13:51:02

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