Facebook 'Fixes' Algorithm, Lowers Priority For 'News Feed'

Isaac Cain
January 16, 2018

It remains to be seen if the quality of Facebook time improves or not, but there are many other concerns related to social media in the broader context which need to be addressed. Imposing on Facebook legal responsibility for libelous content - and for tracking down users who spread it - would bring home to Zuckerberg the urgency of getting out of the media business and prompt more resolute rewriting of key algorithms, as well as better user identification.

"One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent", is how Zuckerberg introduced his post on the changes.

Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook.

Facebook users can expect less media and public content in their news feeds and more posts from their families and friends under new plans to make the social media site more "relevant" to users.

Facebook has been managing the fallout from revelations past year that the Russians had tried to influence the 2016 USA presidential election by buying ads and planting and promoting false news stories. The feelings of fulfillment and well-being that Facebook users experience could result from being told, over and over, "You're right". By late 2017, the usage rate barely budged, rising to 66% ofUS adults, but the share of those who got news on Facebook rose to 45%.

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Data from Nielsen's digital content ratings suggest Facebook users may already have been reducing the amount of time they spend on the platform by 5-7 per cent last August and September. And while that may have helped it grow as a business and become the most powerful social network, with more than 2 billion monthly active users, it also meant the company strayed away from its roots.

"We think that we're now slightly overvaluing how much time people spend on our platform and undervaluing how many meaningful interactions they have with other people", said Mosseri, who oversees News Feed. Investors simply aren't fully cognizant yet of how users will respond to recent change and if those customers will continue to rely on Facebook for their daily news fix. The News Feed will become a premium placement, cost-wise, as the competition increases, and this will likely drive brands and companies to focus on the creative idea to stand out. Given that Facebook algorithm can read numbers but not sentiments, using that as a factor to decide what is meaningful is completely off the grid, at least for places like India. The novelty of Facebook updates of close friends and family will be put on display to the detriment of page posts, be they news or advertising. This required Facebook to "refocus the system", he said.

Under the revised regime, there will be fewer posts from brands, pages and media companies and more from people.

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

In the face of the changes, Davey advised brands to do things that people will talk about with their friends and family on Facebook. As the dominant player in the social media space, Facebook's changes will bring back the focus of social interactions which is the key goal of all social media platforms. Comments under Zuckerberg's posts include many pleas to keep things as they are.

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