On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is focusing their 2018 goals on fostering personal connections with deeper meaning. The first step Facebook is taking to achieve this goal is adjusting the algorithm used to populate users’ news feeds.
The new algorithm will put posts from friends and family first, above unpaid posts from public pages of businesses and media organizations. Posts with lots of engagement—those that get high amounts of comments, likes, and reactions—will also get preferential placement on news feeds with the new algorithm. This means that unpaid content from brands and media pages will be pushed lower down on the feed, reducing visibility.
Facebook’s 2018 goals concerning deeper personal engagement stem from research findings suggesting that passively absorbing content or scrolling on social networks can make people feel worse, even if the content is informative and engaging. Other findings show that people can improve their happiness and health by interacting with friends and family online by increasing feelings of connectedness and support.
Zuckerberg stated in a Facebook post Thursday: “We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions. We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”
Facebook has found that unpaid posts by page-owners, which they consider “public content,” has surpassed the volume of content posted by people. This is another reason for the updated algorithm. Paid posts and ads will not be affected. However, Facebook does expect that users will spend less time on the platform if the company succeeds in its new goals. The hope is that the time users spend on Facebook will be more meaningful, even if it ends up being less time overall.
This news sends a clearer message of what Facebook’s new goals are. Rather than focusing on informing the public, the platform’s main purpose is to connect people and form relationships. Zuckerberg wrote, “At it best, Facebook has always been about personal connections.”