Facebook Announces Changes to the News Feed, Will Show Less Content From Publishers

For many Facebook users, the News Feed, the way they interact with the app more often than not, has become one giant advertisement. But that is finally going to change.

Announced today via a blog post, the social network has announced that it is going to roll out some major changes to the news feed moving forward. The primary goal, according to the announcement, is to offer more content from the people on your friend’s list, and, hopefully, bring the community closer together. That means the company will be putting a bigger focus on content published by friends and family members, and put less focus on content published by publishers and brands.

If it all works out, the general Facebook audience should see less advertisements, videos, and other viral content that isn’t being shared directly from their contacts.

Zuckerberg said in a post that it was “easy to understand how we got here” when it comes to video and other viral content taking over the news feed. He also notes that since there is more public content cropping up on Facebook on a regular basis, the algorithms working behind-the-scenes simply geared the news feed towards that content. As a result, what you might actually want to see, content from your friend’s list, wasn’t necessarily getting any attention.

Here’s part of Zuckerberg’s post:

“It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.

We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

As mentioned above, this new news feed is meant to bring the community together, and Facebook hopes that the changes will mean that there will be more interactions being made on the social network moving forward. Things might get strange, though, because Facebook will be working to “predict” what individual users will want to see on their news feed from their contacts, and then move those posts to the top of the news feed.

Basically, it sounds like while publisher and brand content might be getting reduced, depending on how active your news feed is, you might still be digging for content. The changes will begin rolling out over the coming weeks.

Our Take

This is clearly a “better late than never” situation, because the news feed on Facebook has been a mess for a very, very long time. Now that the social network is going to “fix it”, it will be interesting to see how the new effort actually translates into real world usage. Will the company’s “predictions” for what users want to see actually make the news feed worthwhile? Only time will tell.

[via Facebook]