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Facebook feed focus to be friends, family

Facebook feed focus to be friends, family

Mark Zuckerberg's latest Facebook post is proving expensive.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook's Head of News Feed, also put out a statement that said the social network would "prioritise posts that spark conversations" and "To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed".

Shares of Menlo Park, California-based Facebook tumbled 4.5 per cent on Friday in NY, cutting Zuckerberg's fortune to US$74 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. If that decline holds through the close of trading, he will lose his place as the world's fourth-richest person to Spanish retail billionaire Amancio Ortega. "Good on Facebook - they are doing the right thing, long-term".

What's less clear is how these changes will address Facebook's problem with false information on the site, as many stories that spread are shared by users' friends and family.

Nic Newman, a digital media strategist who authors the Reuters Institute Digital Report for Oxford University, said the move is "not unexpected" because "it's been a pretty bad year for Facebook in terms of its PR" - referencing the criticism the company has faced over "fake news" and its increasing dominance, alongside Google, of the online advertising market.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, said in an interview with The Times on Thursday that he wanted the company to focus on "meaningful interaction". Facebook has introduced a series of changes meant to address the problem.

"By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down", said Zuckerberg in the post.

For media companies, a reliance on the company as a driver of traffic has proved an unreliable business model, given that it can change what it prioritizes in its News Feed at any time.

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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 outlined a less absolute change in his post that will see commercial content de-prioritised rather than removed from the news feed all together.

But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content - posts from businesses, brands and media - is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.

Admitting that its changes will likely reduce the time people spend on Facebook less was a big deal for the company.

This means that if you're counting on Facebook to deliver news from this news outlet, or virtually any other news outlet, then you're going to be seeing less of that.

However, Facebook's prioritising of video is unlikely to end soon, said Mr Newman, as it attempts to push users to its Watch video platform - an attempt to rival YouTube.

Though the shift back to personal interaction may not mean fewer paid marketing spots in users' feeds, any drop in engagement and attention may still translate to fewer ad dollars.

Facebook has trained individuals, brands and publishers to rewire their brains towards an instinctual pursuit of what they believe will capture that satisfying like or lucrative share. Travis Parker Martin is the co-founder of Bootkik, a Calgary-based startup that attributes the majority of its growth to its Facebook presence. "We were frustrated that the returns were diminishing on Facebook". Martin said. "This confirms that we will have to pursue other channels".


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