Science

Facebook's news feed to prioritise 'meaningful interactions' over branded content

Facebook's news feed to prioritise 'meaningful interactions' over branded content

Zuckerberg said an overhaul of the company's products, beginning with changes to the algorithms that control the News Feed, would help to address those concerns.

The goal of the overhaul, ultimately, is for something less quantifiable that may be hard to achieve: Facebook wants people to feel positive, rather than negative, after visiting.

Facebook said late Thursday it is changing the News Feed to prioritize posts from friends, family members and groups over posts from publishers and brands.

For now, Page content will remain on the Feed - although businesses are going to have to work harder to keep their content relevant when competing for less space on the News Feed. The deal then seemed very attractive for smaller publishers in particular - as many were already dependent completely on Facebook for their audiences. In fact only a month ago Facebook announced how it plans to put a clamp on engagement-bait spam posts. "And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people", Zuckerberg added. Former executives and Facebook investors have spoken out about how it and other social media sites might be hurting rather than helping society and users' psyches.

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

In a blog post, Facebook argued that researchers had found connecting with friends and family on social media could be beneficial while passively consuming articles and videos was not.

In September, the company said more than 2.07 billion people were using Facebook at least one a month.

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The changes will take effect over the coming weeks. But Thursday's shift goes beyond previous changes by prioritising posts that spur substantive interactions between people.

The company has been criticized for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in people's feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election, as well as political discourse in many countries.

Mr Zuckerberg said the shift in focus was likely to reduce "the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement", at least initially. "You pick a friend for lots of different reasons", he said.

Zuckerberg said he was now focusing his company around the new approach. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos -even if they're entertaining or informative - may not be as good.

Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management at Facebook, who is responsible for running the News Feed, acknowledged that "there will be anxiety" from partners and publishers who often complain about the constant changes in what will be shown across the network.

The changes are meant to maximize the amount of content with "meaningful interaction" that people consume on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, said in an interview. He said he had rethought the way he views his and Facebook's legacy, even if it will cost the company in the short term.