Facebook to emphasize friends, not news, in series of changes

FILE PHOTO: Facebook Founder and CEO Zuckerberg speaks in San Jose,
FILE PHOTO: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

January 12, 2018

By David Ingram and Paul Sandle

SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc <FB.O> on Thursday began to change the way it filters posts and videos on its centerpiece News Feed, the start of what Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said would be a series of changes in the design of the world’s largest social network.

Zuckerberg, in a sweeping post on Facebook, said the company would change the filter for the News Feed to prioritize what friends and family share, while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands.

Facebook, which owns four of the world’s most popular smartphone apps including Instagram, has for years prioritized material that its complex computer algorithms think people will engage with through comments, “likes” or other ways of showing interest.

Zuckerberg, the company’s 33-year-old co-founder, said that would no longer be the goal.

“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The shift was likely to mean that the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement would go down in the short term, he wrote, but he added it would be better for users and for the business over the long term.

Advertising on the social network would be unaffected by the changes, John Hegeman, a Facebook vice president, said in an interview.

Facebook and its social media competitors have been inundated by criticism that their products reinforce users’ views on social and political issues and lead to addictive viewing habits, raising questions about possible regulation and the businesses’ long-term viability.

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.

Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the network to spread inflammatory posts to polarize the American electorate.

Congress is expected to hold more hearings this month, questioning the role social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> and Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> YouTube play in spreading propaganda.

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. Similar changes will be made to other products in the coming months, he said.

“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” Zuckerberg wrote. (http://bit.ly/2CSkTW6)

With more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the world’s largest social media network. It is also among the world’s largest corporations, reporting $36 billion in revenue, mostly from advertising, during the 12 months that ended on Sept. 30.

A shift away from non-ad content produced by businesses is a potentially severe blow to news organizations, many of which use Facebook to drive readership, but Zuckerberg said many such posts have been unhealthy.

“Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience,” he wrote.

(Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)

  • CD Ard

    Sucker rug wrote to the DNC he would provide any data base or profile info from FB to the DNC during the campaign to help them oppose Trump. This is in the emails and docs that were released 2016.

  • Think 2 Moves Ahead

    Adding to JS below, when there is an anti-Trump article with thousands of comments, only the negative comments are shown. I do like the social aspect of Facebook, however this is an area Zuck needs to fix.
    The staff at Facebook are not trustworthy to be neutral. I did report a troll who posted negative comments against Trump’s family, and was let down the Facebook staff did not see this as a problem.

  • Scott Henke

    Wait. Since when did fascistbook emphasize news?

  • js

    one big change needed is to eliminated all those suggested friends, groups, etc…if the authorities were to look at those it could be reasonably assumed that they are based on your activities or associations…that they are somehow similar to what you are already doing/visiting/participating in. IN my case I can promise you the suggestions I get are totally unfounded…I have no similarities at all…not even searches…either give the user the control to turn all of that off or eliminate it entirely…

  • CD Ard

    So, he wants to do some social engineering of what he thinks we should read and believe. We all know that he considers conservative and constitutional content ‘unhealthy’.

    • Think 2 Moves Ahead

      Good tips. I use Twitter for similar read only. Follow Donald and Melania, Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne, and Pence. I get real news without bias. I will follow my reps on FB. Thanks.

  • airstart

    Zuck’s just another clueless progressive, the (so called) news feed on F/B is pretty useless anyway. F/B is the last place I look for news. There’s more and more accurate news on the back cover of the “Rolling Stone”.

    • CD Ard

      He is referring to the news posted by the individual Congressmen and Senators and by the WH. That is what he wants to remove. There is no “news feed” per se.

  • All American

    LMFAO this guy is such a pawn! He doesn’t even realize it yet.
    Everyone that I know that was using Facebook is no longer👍🏻
    Patriots making headway🇺🇸Freedom at last from the control of the deep state!

  • Jeffrey Martin

    Facebook is the opiate of the masses. I suppose posting in the comments section on political sites is #2 in that regard. Long live opiates of the masses!

  • WrathMaster

    Hey, there ya go. Now that’s a stroke of genius! I mean, that’s all it was ever supposed to be any way!

    • CD Ard

      No one in their right mind would use it for social purposes. It allows conservative news updates from our political reps and the WH, but now those will be censored. OANN does not cover everything…..I am happy getting news posts on FB from Congressmen and Senators and the WH as well as ACLJ and other legit organizations. Those are what Zuck will eliminate.

  • ArbyJay

    With every passing day, the “nothing I find appealing about Facebook” grows larger and larger. Never used it, never will.

  • LET_THEM_EAT_CAKE

    Next, FakeBook will be doing a TV show….”Repulsive Worm Knows Best”

  • PA

    Can you SEE THE Swamp Creatures from The Black Lagoon cesspool actually Morphing & Shape Shifting,
    LEFT before your eyes in to JK’s Lord Voldemort & Serpent Characteristics?
    This One, Bezos, Pelosi, old Reid, Cain, Fraudulent Flake, Schumer, mc”CON”nell, Ryan,
    Waters, Freakrica, CON.yers, Alcee, Colbert. Streep, Scarborough .Mika, Fenstein, etc.
    Can you hear the Hissing from Forked Tongues as their tails rattle?

  • PA

    _uckerBerg & Facebook are “NO FRIENDS” to “LIKE” as Dems’ covert, subversive, InBedded,
    illegal, lawless, criminal Tool, Weapon & Delivery Device for UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES..

  • akafett

    Zuckerburg was groomed and placed in the position he is in. He is a puppet.

  • Seeker333

    DIE, FB, DIE.

  • Disgusted by the Misleadia

    I use Facebook to keep up with family and friends. If someone is constantly sharing or liking irrelevant stuff, I shadow-unfriend them. If someone insists on posting political stuff, I unfriend them.

    I got rid of most of Facebook’s insertion of articles by repeatedly using the dropdown menu at the upper right of the article, saying “I don’t want to see this”. It didn’t take long for the “sponsored content” to disappear altogether.

    • Living in the Times

      I am with you. That is also the way I use FB. So ridiculous when people are on there posting what they had for breakfast…WHO CARES…get a life people. I don’t care what you ate this AM or what you are wearing today and I am sick to death of your ridiculous trout pout selfies!!!!!! Who started that anyway, the Kartrashians????

      • Bananas

        Oh thank you! I, too am sick to death of the endless selfies. How much affirmation do some people need. Ugh. Get a real hobby.

        • Living in the Times

          That my friend is what you call ARROGANCE! When you think you look sooo good, that others just can’t get enough of looking at you.

          • Bananas

            Maybe they should buy one of those little rear view mirrors you put on bike handle bars, attach it to a headband and this way they can walk around all day admiring themselves. smh

          • CD Ard

            Narcissistic. It is always odd looking people who do this. Some think they look sexy in their selfies……not.

    • Think 2 Moves Ahead

      Agree completely. I have unfriended quite a few who kept posting political stuff. It is easy to control to see the fun friends and family. In return, I only post limited photos of my vacations and avoid the political. Keeps the trolls away.

  • No Mas

    F Zuckerberg and Fictionbook

  • I’m Proud

    Never wanted FB.

  • Larry

    How about you let your users decide what they want facebook to be to themselves and keep your liberal bias out of it. You know, sort of compatible with the 1st amendment and our individual pursuits of happiness.

    • CD Ard

      I use FB to get updates from the politicians I follow. Freedom Caucus members for example. The news media won’t tell us what is going on but Reps and Senators will routinely post what they are doing. Also, ACLJ activities in the courts. Those come up on my home page if I use the follow option. I don’t post pictures or use it for family and friends. Looks like FB is going to stop them from posting their legislative updates. That is Zuckerbergs likely objective…..to censor conservative information.

  • …remain calm and return fire

    choose your friends wisely, dump anyone on FB

  • Bertrand Pincemin

    They still talk about 100 000 dollars Russian bots used to spread less than 0;4% of the info flow of the 2016’s elections . . .
    THE Billions they put on Clinton ‘s agenda?ot a peep. . . OBAMA ‘S poisoning the whole third world and europ with his narratives about the nazi white men and their polluting the WORLD ?Nothing . . . It is very serious. . .Most of the nonliberal people Ired this year were balanced and open people . . .They have strong beliefs. . .but they made THE USA whith these beliefs. . . InFRANCE .. . We are taught to hate white american conservatives. . . and to love Hollywoodfor its ovewhelming moral position. . . .Find the crack
    I whish Icould join My green card half (but loved) brother who lived 40years in America. . .cause I found the more gentlemen and women along with the TRUMPtrain . . . M A GA +M E(urope) G A ?
    happy new year to all

  • RURC

    Of course they will do this. Because ‘news’ shows how morally bankrupt the left is.

  • Widl Man

    F’off PPhuckerberg.

  • Varangian Guard

    He will emphasize his friends news. We all know who his friends are.
    Social media is a pariah on society. It causes ambiguity and divisive tone in everything it touches.
    Read books, talk to humans face to face. Leave the phone at home once and awhile but most of all dump the social media. It is a bad path to walk down.

  • Wanderninja187

    Facebook allowed me to see how a left-leaning globalist information-mine can drive wedges between friends and family and filling those voids with meaningless memes and empty rhetoric. Now he wants to make Facebook more “friend oriented.” So now he can really learn the nuances of social interaction and feed off of that. Yeah, I’ll leave my account deactivated, Mark.

  • Think 2 Moves Ahead

    These are good changes. My family is spread out over a few states so this is the best way to see photos. Apparently the five commenters before me do not use Facebook. The article is going over the changes to make the social aspect better. Life outside of Facebook exists just as life exists outside of reading online news.

  • Jeffrey Martin

    Never joined Facebook. Never will. Best online decision I’ve ever made.

    • All American

      Me too. Now my friends and family understand why…

  • JohnGalt11

    A little boy in a big boy world.
    What a pathetic creature.

    • Jeffrey Martin

      And when our kids kids stop using Facebook, it will be 100 bazillion dollars of worthless paper..

      • HarryObrian

        Unfortunately the farcebook snake has too many heads and too much influence on those children to ever be totally gone. Not to mention, even though it is evil, it is a mainstay in the stock market and the White House can’t and won’t allow those to fail, well, at least not without sufficient warning for wally street and politician investors.

        • Seeker333

          BS