Facebook to focus News Feed on friends, family

- Allana Akhtar

Facebook’s latest News Feed update could be bad for online publishers — and good news for users who want more cute cat and baby photos.

Facebook announced Wednesday it is limiting the amount of content from Pages, or the public profile created for brands, celebritie­s and media publishers a user follows.

The News Feed will feature more posts from friends and family instead of posts from news companies.

Maintainin­g a relevant and interestin­g News Feed is important to satisfying users, said Adam Mosseri, vice president for product management at Facebook. Many users, especially those with many connection­s, told the ser- vice important posts from close friends often do not appear in their News Feed, which prompted the company to introduce this new upgrade.

“Stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends,” Mosseri said in a statement. “One of our most im- portant jobs is getting this ranking right.”

Lars Backstrom, engineerin­g director at Facebook, acknowledg­ed the update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some public profiles, especially those not receiving many shares or interactio­ns. This could mean companies using Facebook to distribute their content, such as media publishers, could see a decline in reads.

Publishers and news outlets, who rely on Facebook users to click on their content and generate ad revenue, may suffer the most. Media sites reported more than 40% of their Web traffic came from Facebook, according to analytics firm, while 30% of U.S. adults get their news directly from Facebook, Pew Research Center reported.

The change may not even be beneficial for Facebook users if fewer people are sharing personal posts, as one report maintains. Sharing of personal news — rather than news articles or Internet memes — fell 21% year over year as of mid-2015, according to tech news site The Informatio­n.

Facebook has said that, in contrast, overall sharing has remained similar to levels in prior years.

Users who do choose to like and follow media companies usually do so because they want to see the content, said Rich Gordon, professor and director of digital innovation at Northweste­rn University.

Gordon said Facebook’s News Feed algorithm could treat online profiles of news outlets differentl­y than they would celebritie­s or other public organizati­ons — that way users can enjoy news articles without being bombarded by other posts.

 ?? SEAN GALLUP, GETTY IMAGES ?? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured users Facebook is a “platform for all ideas.”
SEAN GALLUP, GETTY IMAGES Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured users Facebook is a “platform for all ideas.”

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