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Less face time for brands and media on Facebook Newsfeed

Facebook has revealed new measures it would be taking to “bring people closer together and build relationships”. This will be done through updates to its ranking system so users have more opportunities to interact with “people they care about”.

In a post explaining the move, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the company had recently received feedback from its community that public content, including posts from businesses, brands and media, had been “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.

He added that Facebook had begun making changes in this direction last year. However, complete roll out of the new to all of its products would take months. The first changes will be observed on its News Feed, which will show more posts from friends, family and groups. Meanwhile, less public content such as posts from businesses, brands, and media will be see, and the public content users see will be held to the same standard to encourage meaningful interactions.

Facebook said it would use signals such as reactions, comments and shares to determine how high posts would appear on the news feed. This will allow posts which spark conversations and meaningful interactions between users to get prioritised. This can range from friends seeking advice and recommendations, to news articles and videos prompting discussion.

The social media giant will also prioritise posts from friends and family over public content.

“Because space in News Feed is limited, 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,” the blog post read.

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.

It explained that the impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content produced and how people interact with it.

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect,” the blog post added.

Users who opt to select “See First” in News Feed Preferences will still be able to see posts from Pages they follow. Meanwhile, Page posts that generate conversation between users will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on the platform, according to Facebook. In fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.

“Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed,” the post added.

Facebook denied the elimination of Page content from the News Feed, clarifying that the update is not the same as recent tests which saw all Page content being moved to the Explore Tab. This was tested in selected countries globally.

Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.

The move is hot on the heels of Zuckerberg’s recent vow to “fix” Facebook, in what he described as his personal challenge for 2018. Last week, he pointed to the abuse and hate on the platform, along with foreign attempts to spread misinformation, and social networking’s effect on a person’s well being. This comes as the company acknowledged that passively reading the Facebook news feed isn’t always “good for your mental health”.

The past year has also seen the social media platform clamping down on fake news, including blocking Facebook Pages which repeatedly share stories which are marked as false from advertising on its platform. Together with Google, Facebook declared that it would block advertising revenue to fake news sites which mislead online users.

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