Facebook announces sweeping changes to content shown in users’ news feeds

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In efforts to “better connect people,” Facebook announced on Thursday that it has introduced major changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that users will see most often. According to the company, the goal is to prioritize what friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.

Said to be “the most significant overhaul in years to Facebook’s News Feed,” according to a report in The New York Times, users can expect to see fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies. Instead, Facebook will highlight posts that friends have interacted with, such as anniversary updates and photos of dogs and kids.

After studying what kinds of posts had stressed or harmed users, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the changes are intended to focus on “meaningful interactions” between people.

“We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “We need to refocus the system.”

“When people are engaging with people they’re close to, it’s more meaningful, more fulfilling,” said David Ginsberg, director of research at Facebook. “It’s good for your well-being.”

Critics of the overhaul say people may end up seeing more content that reinforces their own ideologies if they end up mostly interacting with posts and videos that reflect the similar views of their friends or family. The fear is that bogus news may still spread — if a relative or friend posts a link with an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on, that post will be prominently displayed.

According to The New York Times report:

Facebook has been under fire for months over what it shows people and whether its site has negatively influenced millions of its users. The company has been dogged by questions about how its algorithms may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in News Feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election as well as political discourse in many countries. Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the social network to spread divisive and inflammatory posts and ads to polarize the American electorate.

Those issues have landed Facebook in front of lawmakers, who have grilled the company about its influence last year. Next Wednesday, Facebook is set to appear at another hearing on Capitol Hill, along with Twitter and YouTube, about the online spread of extremist propaganda.

The repercussions from Facebook’s new News Feed changes will almost certainly be far-reaching. Publishers, nonprofits, small business and many other groups rely on the social network to reach people, so de-emphasizing their posts will most likely hurt them. Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management at Facebook, who is responsible for running the News Feed, acknowledged that “there will be anxiety” from partners and publishers who often complain about the constant changes in what will be shown across the network.

According to The Hill:

With the News Feed update, Facebook users will see content based on how many of their friends have interacted with it. For example, if a post has a lot of “Likes” or comments from a user’s friends, that post is likely to appear higher in the user’s News Feed.

The goal, Facebook said in a statement, is to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

“These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion,” the company said.

Variety reported that, in response to the news, Facebook shares dropped over 5 percent Friday morning. “In response, Facebook’s stock saw its biggest decline in months — as investors fear the News Feed changes will crimp the company’s growth trajectory. The stock was trading a little over $177 per share Friday before the market opened, down 5.7% from Thursday’s closing price of $187.77.”

DML News CEO Dennis Michael Lynch said Friday morning that DMLNews.com is updating the DML APP, along with a new social media platform being developed for conservatives. Release of the DML APP 2.0 and the new platform is expected within approximately four months, he stated.

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