Here's what Facebook News Feed overhaul could mean to users, business

Federico Mansilla
Enero 13, 2018

Raju Narisetti, the chief executive of the Gizmodo Media Group, the unit of Univision that operates Jezebel and other sites, said that he was expecting the changes any day but that he had not heard from Facebook about what it could mean for publishers.

Facebook announced sweeping changes to its News Feed on January 11, 2018, saying that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.

Shares of Menlo Park, California-based Facebook tumbled 3.9% at noon in NY, cutting Zuckerberg's fortune to $74.4 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He lost his place as the world's fourth-richest person to Spanish retail billionaire Amancio Ortega.

While Zuckerberg described the move as being created to bring people closer together and foster more "meaningful social interactions", analysts noted that it comes amid criticism of the world's leading social network on various fronts.

Facebook has been doing very well financially. In the company's early years, the news feed was a scrolling update about the personal activities of friends and family members.

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 awful 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.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote, "One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent". Zuckerberg acknowledged that he expects this will mean people spend less time on Facebook, but he hopes the time they do spend "will be more valuable".

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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. As there will be a reduced number of posts from publishers and business.

Many news organizations, bloggers and businesses have grown reliant on Facebook to spread information - articles, videos, infomercials - to their followers without paying for ads.

Facebook wants to keep deciding for you what you see, so maybe it's a good time to decide, for yourself, to get your news in a more reliable way.

One other reason why Facebook may be updating the News Feed to include more posts from family and friends rather than news is to combat the explosion of fake news, a problem that first came to light after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Months before the company went public in 2012, Facebook started featuring "sponsored story" ads in users' feeds, and it rolled out mobile advertising that same year.

A large part of brands and media companies' strategies is to post articles and videos from their pages to engage consumers - items that aren't considered "meaningful interactions" between people.

Facebook said it quickly shut that capability down.

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. Travis Parker Martin is the co-founder of Bootkik, a Calgary-based startup that attributes the majority of its growth to its Facebook presence. Given Thursday's announcement, Martin said he plans to significantly decrease that. "We were frustrated that the returns were diminishing on Facebook".

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