Sci-tech

Facing critics, Facebook wants feeds to be more 'meaningful'

Facing critics, Facebook wants feeds to be more 'meaningful'

It uses a process called ranking to determine which posts show up in people's news feed and in what order based on what Facebook thinks they will be most interested in.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced a major revamp to users' news feeds on Thursday, saying that the changes would likely make users spend less time on the platform. "But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable", he wrote.

Google, Twitter and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news - some of which was directed by Russian Federation - ahead of the 2016 U.S. election and in other countries. The deal then seemed very attractive for smaller publishers in particular - as many were already dependent completely on Facebook for their audiences.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that the focus on interaction instead of passive consumption might cause people to spend less time on Facebook, but said the change "will be good for our community and our business over the long term too", the Guardian reports. "We need to refocus the system".

News Feed will be the first feature that will see the first changes, "where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups".

The 33-year-old chief executive said that the move, which will badly affect many publishers and could hit Facebook's own bottom line, was meant to renew the social network's focus on bringing people together after users complained that commercial posts were crowding out personal moments.

Over the next few weeks, users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles posted by media companies.

These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that users might want to share and react to - whether that is 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.

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Another wave of criticism pummeling Facebook: that the company's products exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being.

In September, the company said more than 2.07 billion people were using Facebook at least one a month. But Thursday's shift goes beyond previous changes by prioritising posts that spur substantive interactions between people.

On Thursday, he said numerous discussions about Facebook's responsibilities had prompted the company "to get a better handle on some of the negative things that could happen in the system".

"We are doing a ton of work to reduce the frequency of bad content on Facebook", Mr Hegeman said.

"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us", Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg has been laying the groundwork for making that fundamental shift in all of Facebook's products.

Facebook has denied it is a media company, but in recent years, brands, media companies and other content creators have turned to Facebook for its unparalleled reach and engagement.