Facebook to emphasize friends, not news, in series of changes

Facebook overhauls News Feed to highlight posts from family and friends

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Facebook users can expect less media and public content in their news feeds and more posts from their families and friends under new plans to make the social media site more "relevant" to users.

It's understood this will be in addition to local news that already appears in Facebook's News Feed and on publishers' pages.

Facebook, which owns four of the world's most popular smartphone apps including Instagram, has for years prioritized material that its complex computer algorithms think people will engage with through comments, "likes" or other ways of showing interest. The company has been dogged by questions about how its algorithms may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in News Feeds, influencing the 2016 USA presidential election as well as political discourse in many countries. That ranking system will be altered to prioritize posts that "spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people".

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It is also looking to double down on a strategy of promoting content shared by friends and family over posts published by news outlets, the Journal reported.

These changes will probably not seem drastic to many users. There is some consternation among publishers that this strategy could lead to a significant reduction in traffic referred from Facebook over time. Zuckerberg said that was in fact Facebook's expectation, but that if people end up feeling better about using the social network, the business will ultimately benefit. "Pages making posts that people generally don't react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution".

Also, personal anecdata: I'm active in a number of private Facebook groups and, for at least the past couple of months, I have pretty much only seen posts from those groups in my News Feed.

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He said that he and his team felt a responsibility to make sure Facebook was good for people's wellbeing.

The move is part of the company's efforts to help people strengthen relationships on the site.

Reading local headlines and finding a band playing a show later sounds like a downright heartening shift in focus from watching Facebook's vast tangle of digital citizens emote endlessly into their algorithmically curated voids.

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The changes are meant to maximize the amount of content with "meaningful interaction" that people consume on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, said in an interview.

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