Facebook News Feed To Favor Friends, Family

At the expense of content from businesses and publishers, Facebook's News Feed will be giving greater priority to fare from users’ friends and family.

“Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about,” Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed at Facebook, notes in a new blog post.

In users' feeds, Facebook also plans to prioritize posts that engender conversations and what its algorithms deem to be “meaningful” interactions.

“We will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in the feed,” Mosseri explains.

On Facebook, the changes will negatively impact the reach of businesses and publishers, Mosseri said.

“Showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses,” he said. “As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”

On the network, the degree to which businesses and publishers suffer is expected to vary, depending on the type of content they produce and how users interact with it.

Speaking to Facebook’s bottom line, analysts suggest the changes will likely have a negative impact in the short term, but a positive impact in the long term.

“The actions the company will take pose a headwind to growth for the business in the near-term,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser writes in a new note to investors. “However, we also think that the actions taken will be helpful for the long-term health of the overall business.”

In his note, Wieser also reasoned that the impact of reduced ad impressions on revenue might be mitigated by Instagram’s continued growth, Facebook’s pricing power in the industry, and the fact that there are many ways to manage ad inventory, such as by focusing on higher-paying advertisers rather than lower-paying ones.

The changes are part of a broader effort to become more meaningful in people’s lives.

Citing a body of independent and internal research, the tech titan recently reported that the more time people spend passively consuming information, the worse they feel.

In response, Facebook vowed to alter its News Feed to provide more opportunities for “meaningful” interactions, while reducing passive consumption of low-quality content.

Regarding their well-being, Facebook said the initiative could also increase user interactions and engagement, which has been a goal of network's for some time.

As part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s push for greater authenticity, Facebook also recently started cracking down on solicitors of “likes,” shares and other types of phony engagement.

It’s what Facebook calls “engagement bait,” or the manipulation of its News Feed algorithm in order to boost engagement and achieve greater reach.

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