Facebook has announced it is prioritizing content from friends and family. The social media giant that has to date appeared to appease online publishers by pushing their content into the users’ News Feed will now be limiting the content from such outlets. Instead, it will give more precedence to content from actual human connections.
The company announced it is limiting the amount of content from Pages, the public profile created for brands, celebrities, or media publishers a user follows, in the News Feed, the infinite bottomless scrolling page that greets users every time they log in. In other words, the company may not aggressively push the content from publishers. Instead, the page will now be populated more with posts from friends, family, and acquaintances.
Essentially, Facebook appears to be giving more weight to posts from users’ friends, perhaps at the expense of publishers. To date, tens of thousands of publishers have heavily relied on referral traffic from the site. However, the platform considers maintaining a relevant and interesting News Feed important to satisfy users, said Adam Mosseri, the vice president of product management at Facebook.
“Many users, especially those with many connections, told the service important posts from close friends often do not appear on their News Feed, which prompted the company to introduce this new upgrade.”
The company said Wednesday it is publishing a new document explaining its approach to the ranking algorithm that outlines the intentions of the company, added Mosseri.
“Stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends. One of our most important jobs is getting this ranking right.
“The number one value is connecting people with their friends and family. The number two value is providing information like news stories and number three is providing entertainment like Facebook Live videos and funny photos.”
The document firmly notes that News Feed is a “platform for all ideas.” Moreover, the company states that “we don’t favor specific kinds of sources – or ideas.”
Will the revision to News Feed adversely affect online publishers? Facebook didn’t mince words about the possibility of content publishers suffering from lost eyeballs because the content is no longer actively pushed up into the users’ News Feed. According to USA Today, Lars Backstom, the engineering director at Facebook, acknowledged the update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some public profiles. However, he noted that the views might reduce more for pages that do not depend on shares or interactions.
Nonetheless, Facebook’s policy change will affect companies using the platform to distribute their content, including media publishers. Despite what the company says, if it actively remedies the algorithm to push content from family and friends, these publishers will see a noticeable decline in pageviews and readership.
Media sites have come to rely heavily on Facebook. Quite a few platforms, even the popular ones, have about 40 percent of their web traffic arrive through Facebook, according to analytics firm Parse.ly. According to the Pew Research Center, about a third of adult Americans who are online seek content and news directly from Facebook.
Social media content strategy has become an indivisible part of media companies. Similarly, many users consider Facebook to be their go-to platform for accessing content generated by publishers.
In the past, Facebook has been accused of suppressing content from the site’s Trending Topics box. While the platform has strongly denied these allegations, it had accepted that it could do more to gain users’ trust, reported CNN. Is Facebook trying to bring back the “social” aspect within the social media platform by promoting content shared by people the users are related to?
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