Facebook News Feed to prioritise friends over brands

12 Jan 2018  |  Newsline Staff 
Facebook News Feed to prioritise friends over brands

Facebook has announced a major change to its News Feed that will see content from friends, family and groups prioritised over posts from businesses, brands and publishers.

Based on "academic research," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network will begin to predict which posts users might want to interact with their friends about, and show these posts higher in their feed.

As a result, Facebook will show less third-party content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses - and said that any third-party content users do see will be held to the same standard and "should encourage meaningful interactions between people".

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

"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."

Some analysts have suggested that the move is an attempt by Facebook to distance itself from the news business - the social media platform has been in hot water recently after it was revealed that 126 million Americans saw fake news stories from Russian propagandists in their news feeds during the most recent US election campaign.

Politicians in both the US and Europe have since questioned if self-regulation of social media platforms - including YouTube and Twitter - is working.

Meanwhile, ISBA, the body that represents UK advertisers, said it wanted Facebook to be more open and accountable.

"ISBA will welcome any changes that result in the public feeling less bombarded by poor quality advertising and having to feel less wary about what is being presented in feeds," the trade body's director general, Phil Smith, said.

"However, more detail is needed and we would strongly urge Facebook to be more open and accountable to advertisers and the public in its assessment of the current position and in its reporting of the impact of any measures it takes."

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