Facebook users can expect to see more posts from friends and family in their News Feeds in the coming months, the company announced today. Posts that generate high levels of engagement will also be featured more prominently in the News Feed.
Businesses and organizations with Facebook Pages may experience a decline in pageviews and engagement as a result of the change, said Facebook head of News Feed Adam Mosseri. “As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease,” Mosseri said.
In a Facebook post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would direct product teams to focus on helping people find meaningful social interactions. More public content has meant Facebook has “shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other,” Zuckberg said.
“Now, I want to be clear: By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too,” he said in a post about the News Feed change today.
“Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other,” he said.
The News Feed shift comes one month after Facebook acknowledged social media consumption can make its users feel bad or report declines in mental health. The admission came in a blog post titled “Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?,” part of the company’s Hard Questions series.
A University of Michigan study cited in the blog post and again by Zuckerberg today found that students who passively consume 10 minutes of News Feed content reported feeling worse at the end of the day. Conversely, Facebook concluded in its post last month, actively engaging in conversation with those close to you is “linked to improvements in well being.”
This definitely isn’t the first time Facebook has revealed changes to the News Feed to serve up more content from your loved ones and rank other posts lower. Tweaks to surface more content from friends and family in the News Feed were also announced in June 2016 and April 2015. Last month, Facebook announced plans to reduce engagement-bait spam posts, the kind that encourage you to Like something because you’re an Aquarius or invite people to Like a post for a chance to win a car.
In other Facebook news this week, we learned that in May the social media company could reveal a video chat device named Portal that’s rumored to be priced around $500. Zuckerberg’s reported priority with the device, one of Facebook’s first pieces of hardware, is to change users’ behavior and the way they interact on the social network.