Facebook announced it was making a significant change to the News Feed, favoring posts shared by friends and family over posts from brands and publishers.
That means when you visit Facebook on the web or on mobile, most of the stories and videos you see will be there because your Facebook friends have shared them, not because a company whose page you once Liked posted a story or update.
In his announcement about the change, Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management and the News Feed, doesn’t say publisher posts will be demoted because of the change, but the friends and family come first approach has clear implications: Since publishers (including Mashable) depend on Facebook for a significant portion of their audience, the change will affect media brands’ ability to reach that audience.
For those brands, the News Feed change doesn’t necessarily mean a decrease in engagement. It does, however, mean publishers will likely face renewed pressure to create content that is, above all else, shareable. That would seem to favor entertainment-based stories and viral hits above more boring-but-important news such as public policy initiatives.
From a user perspective, the change means Facebook will be an even better place to discuss stories that your friends are already talking about. Facebook will also prioritize friends’ posts you interact with the most — if you like (or, better yet, love) cat videos from your cousin every time you see them, they’ll start to appear higher and higher in your feed over time.
If that sounds like how you thought the News Feed already worked, you’re right. And Wednesday’s change appears to be a doubling down on that philosophy, and an opportunity for Facebook to clearly state its News Feed values in the wake of the recent controversy over claims of muting some conservative voices over liberal ones on how Facebook curates its Trending Topics. In the statement, Mosseri says Facebook doesn’t favor specific kinds of sources — or ideas in the News Feed, and that the feed should both inform and entertain.
The change aims to serve that goal even better, serving up more of the stories each of its 1.6 billion users want to see and, of course, encouraging them to spend more time on Facebook. Exactly how this will affect brands and and publishers isn’t fully clear, but for them, one thing certainly hasn’t changed: When it comes to content, the Facebook share is king.