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Facebook says it plans to transform the News Feed to promote “meaningful posts”

Facebook plans major changes to the News Feed in 2018 designed to promote more meaningful interactions, the company said Thursday. Facebook plans to promote posts that generate discussions over those that are passively consumed, it said. Company executives say they hope the changes will make people feel better about using Facebook, following a year in which critics have warned of its negative effects on society and high-profile former employees have distanced themselves from their creation. We feel a responsibility to make sure our services arent just fun to use, but also good for peoples well-being, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post. Zuckerberg said that the vast increase in posts from publishers, both article links and video, had tilted the News Feed experience to something more passive and less satisfying. The changes announced Thursday are designed to favor posts that spur conversations. We will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed, Adam Mosseri, whose title is head of News Feed, said in a blog post. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to — whether thats a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion. Its not the first time Facebook has sought to rebalance the site in favor of friends and family. In 2016, the company announced it would favor posts shared by people you know over those shared by pages owned by publishers and other businesses. In 2015, it introduced changes that also reduced the reach of pages in favor of friends and family. The changes have been real, and the share of publisher traffic generated by Facebook has declined over time, according to publishers Ive spoken with. One way publishers have compensated for the decline has been to invest heavily in making videos — the much-derided pivot to video that is a joking obsession of Media Twitter. The reason is that until now, Facebook has tuned the News Feed to favor video in the feed over other types of content. The demand for video led to the proliferation of fast, cheap video, which meant lots of stock footage with captions over it. This sort of video is one of the obvious losers in todays announcement. If you like passively watching 90-second videos with the sound off, youre going to have to start looking at them elsewhere. Its tempting to view the changes as a potential solution to the way hoaxes and propaganda can spread virally on Facebook, even after a year of heavy criticism. And yet it seems possible that these changes by themselves would do little to address the issue. Fake news often goes viral precisely because of the strong engagement that it generates from partisans on both sides. This move could strengthen filter bubbles rather than weaken them. Zuckerberg said he expects that the changes introduced this year will cause people to spend less time on Facebook. By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down, he wrote. 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.

Facebook will focus on friends over publishers in the News Feed

Mark Zuckerberg says this is a reaction to how the News Feed balance has shifted in recent years. Facebook just announced that it will make sweeping changes to the News Feed, the primary place where users find content on the social network. Over the next few months, users will see "more from your friends, family and groups" and " less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," so says CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The company says that it has heard from users that the so-called "public content" is crowding out "personal moments" that the Facebook platform was built on. Zuckerberg notes that "it's easy to understand how we got here," saying that there's been an explosion of video and other types of public content that has "exploded" on Facebook in recent years. Because of that, he said that "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." As such, it's time to re-balance what people see when they visit the site. In addition to focusing on interactions between friends rather than media or businesses, Facebook will prioritize posts that "spark conversations and meaningful interactions." To achieve that, the company's algorithms will try and predict posts that you'll want to interact with your friends about and show them higher in the News Feed. As a result, Facebook Pages used by businesses and media will be de-prioritized; the company freely admits that reach, video watch time and referral traffic will likely decrease. Somewhat ironically, though, Facebook notes that live video is a strong driver of engagement and discussion -- six times greater than regular video. As such, those types of videos may still be popping in your feed, even from Pages. Zuckerberg cited a recent study the company conducted about how using Facebook can correlate to your moods. Specifically, the study indicated that when using social media to make connections with people they care about, people come away feeling good about themselves. Conversely, passive reading of articles and watching videos can provide the opposite effect. Zuckerberg notes that's the case even if the content in question is entertaining and informative. Ultimately, Facebook seems to be moving back towards what made it such a success in the first place: person-to-person connections. Indeed, he's even positioning a recalibration of Facebook as something of a legacy for him. Mike Issac at the New York Times reports that he's been rethinking how he views and will run Facebook since having children, even if it'll be detrimental to the company in the short term. " It's important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world," Zuckerberg said to the NYT. The Facebook CEO promised last week that his goal for 2018 was to fix many of the problems the company has been dealing with in recent years, and it looks like he's not wasting any time to get to work.