Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Prioritize Friends and Family

Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Prioritize Friends and Family

The shift is the most significant overhaul in years to Facebook's News Feed, the cascading screen of content that people typically see when they log into the social network.

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media", Zuckerberg said in a post at his Facebook page. "And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people", Zuckerberg said.

"People will actually spend less time on Facebook, but we feel good about that because it will make the time they do spend more valuable, and be good for our business in the end". Publishers anxious they would have to pay to have their posts end up in the News Feed, where most users would spend their time, and thus where there is more potential for ad-revenue-generating traffic. "And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too".

Facebook's News Partnerships team is leading the experiment, using both human curation and machine learning to fuel the content found in the "Today In" section.

It's understood this will be in addition to local news that already appears in Facebook's News Feed and on publishers' pages.

It also comes following academic and expert research published by Facebook last month which showed using social media can in fact leave consumers feeling worse.

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Facebook and other researchers have particularly homed in on passive content.

Some publishers say they were out of the loop on the changes that Facebook is making, despite the social network's efforts over the past year to build stronger ties with industry.

Facebook is mulling how it prioritizes news stories in users' feeds - giving better placement to outlets it sees as more trustworthy and weed out fake news, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Facebook wants to make it easier for people to find local news from vetted sources.

Facebook constantly tweaks its computer algorithms to maintain interest in its news feed, the company's main attention-getter.

Facebook has been flirting with the idea of "sort of" creating two newsfeeds, one for friends and family and another for pages that would be buried under an Explore Tab. Pushing to make Facebook a purpose-built tool for local communities (think utility-driven additions like Marketplace) is certainly a less dystopian vision of the platform's future, at least compared to staying the course.

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