FACEBOOK never claimed itself to be a media company. It maintains it is a social network to connect people to other people. Those familiar with Facebook when it started in 2004 will know how it has changed from a story-sharing, people-connecting platform to one that curates and distributes content and makes its livelihood through advertising.
The way Facebook’s backend operates allowed it to put more sponsored content in people’s pages. This increase in marketing and the propagation of news in people’s feeds has created an uncomfortable imbalance where there are lesser personal connections. To many who have experienced Facebook in the earlier days, before hate speeches and fake news, sharing of personal experience was a motivation.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring back this personal connection wherein there are more “meaningful interactions.”
He said in a press statement how the flood of news articles and marketing has created an imbalance that “is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” The new goal to “have more meaningful interactions,” is the main cause of the code change.
In a report that appeared in Fortune.com Facebook’s own research pointed to the finding that that people are generally happier and have a better “well-being” when they use social media to connect “with people we care about.”
To hear the founder of Facebook say that what “may not be as good,” however, is merely “reading articles or watching videos,” even if they’re informative or entertaining says a lot about where he wants the social media platform to go to—back to what is was—and in the process become “smaller” or what social media pundits refer to as a “shrinking” of the social media platform. This shrinking does not mean in size, number of subscribers but rather in the way content in distributed.
Adam Mosseri VP of Newsfeed in FB said in an interview with Wired that they are revising the algorithm basically to go back to focus on connecting people.
“We’re talking about is a ranking change where we’re trying to focus or trying to look at how we might help—or use ranking to help people become closer together, connect people more. Newsfeed was founded—or Facebook was founded in a lot of ways—to connect people. So we want to see if we can do that better,” Mosseri said in an interview with Fred Vogelstein of Wired.
Altering the algorithm that runs the news feed, will de-prioritize the way FB’s bots curates post of other users and Facebook pages taking away the flood of professionally made content from products, brands and the media outlets. Now it wants to promote posts that encourage interactions with people closest to the users and dropping in rank those that only bring in superficial likes and shares.
The change will benefit the users but may negatively impact businesses or media outlets that rely heavily or exclusively on FB for content distribution or propagation.
This is not the first time that Facebook revised its algorithms. To promote better quality materials, it made back end changes its algorithm sometime in December 2013. That move also affected publishers who produced good content and reduced traffic back to their sites.