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 users can expect to see more posts from their friends and family in their News Feeds in the coming months, the company announced today. Posts that generate high levels of engagement will also be featured higher in the News Feed. Businesses and organizations with Facebook Pages may experience a decline in pageviews and engagement as a result of the change, said Facebook head of News Feed Adam Mosseri. As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease, Mosseri said. In a Facebook post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would direct product teams to focus on helping people find meaningful social interactions. More public content has meant Facebook has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other, Zuckberg said. 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, he said in a post about the News Feed change today. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since theres more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of whats in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other, he said. The News Feed shift comes one month after Facebook acknowledged social media consumption can make its users feel bad or report declines in mental health. The admission came in a blog post titled Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?, part of the companys Hard Questions series. A University of Michigan study cited in the blog post and again by Zuckerberg today found that students who passively consume 10 minutes of News Feed content reported feeling worse at the end of the day. Conversely, Facebook concluded in its post last month, actively engaging in conversation with those close to you is linked to improvements in well being. This definitely isnt the first time Facebook revealed changes to the News Feed that serve up content from your loved ones and rank other posts lower. Tweaks to surface more content from friends and family in the News Feed were also announced in June 2016 and April 2015. Last month, Facebook announced plans to reduce engagement-bait spam posts, the kind that encourage you to Like something because youre an Aquarius or invite people to Like a post for a chance to win a car. In other Facebook news this week, we learned the social media company may reveal a video chat device named Portal in May, rumorrd to be priced around $499. Zuckerbergs reported priority with the device, one of Facebooks first pieces of hardware, is to change user behavior and how they interact on the social network.