Facebook plans major news feed changes ‘to improve your well-being’

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Facebook is gearing up to make some major changes to your news feed.

The planned changes, which focus on reducing the number of public posts from businesses, brands, and media, were outlined on Thursday in a personal message from Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg said that feedback from the Facebook community suggests public content is “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” and as a result he intends to overhaul the feed to address the imbalance.

In his message, the CEO talks much about how research has shown that “strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” adding, “we feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”

He said Facebook’s own studies show that “when we use social media to connect with people … we can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

The new strategy comes as Zuckerberg’s company faces increasing scrutiny about the power of its platform, which currently has more than 2 billion users globally. The last couple of years have been particularly tough for the company — with criticism over abuse and hate speech on the platform, as well as outside interference in U.S. elections, among other issues — and the changes apparently signify the company’s desire to return to its roots, with more focus on friends and family.

Zuckerberg expects time spent on Facebook ‘will go down’

In a comment that will surprise some — not least advertisers keen to reach the site’s massive community — the CEO said the changes mean users will likely spend less time on Facebook, and less time looking at public content, but he hopes the flip side of that will be that time spent on the site will feel “more valuable.”

“If we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long-term, too,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg said the company began making changes in this direction last year, “but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in news feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family, and groups.”

Heading into 2018 with an apparent determination to improve the service, Zuckerberg posted another message on January 4 explaining how he wants to spend the coming year trying to “fix” Facebook. Acknowledging that his company “currently makes too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools,” he said he wants the platform to make a bigger effort “protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

If you’ve had a feeling recently that hitting Facebook is not time well spent, wait and see if these latest alterations to the platform change your mind. If not, you may find you have no choice but to take extreme action to finally deal with the issue.

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