Posts by media outlets and brands on Facebook will be demoted as part of the social network’s plans to revamp its News Feed.
Making the announcement on his page, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the move was part of the social network’s plan to return it to a “personal” service, prioritising user conversations between friends and family.
According to the update, public content such as live video and discussion based groups will only be promoted if they encourage community engagement.
"We've gotten feedback from our community that public content - posts from businesses, brands and media - is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other," said Zuckerberg.
Heavy blow to publishers
In a separate post, Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook’s News Feed addressed the outcome for publishers who rely on Pages to promote their content and business as changes are implemented in the coming weeks.
“The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution,” he said.
Businesses who post updates will see their content demoted from people’s news feeds as a direct result. Instead, the posts will be available to see under a newly-installed ‘Explore’ tab, although, users still have the option to see posts from their favourite Pages they follow by adjusting news feeds preferences.
“The big social publishers must be nervous, their ability to appear on news feeds is arguably how they make any sort of decent money, ” commented Edwyn McFarlane, business innovative director at affiliate network Awin, noting, however, that the “balance has been off” for some time.
Despite all of Zuckerberg’s talk of improvements to user experience in the name of community and personal connections, there’s been speculation into possible financial motivations of the move, with the potential to channel publishers towards Facebook's ever-growing suite of ad products.
The CEO of Social Chain, Steven Bartlett, tweeted on the news earlier this morning: “Today Facebook announced they will make significant changes to their newsfeed algorithm to favour social interactions, seemingly to help improve users lives.
“Before believing this, it’s important to remember Facebook has a greater obligation to improve shareholder’s lives.”
Meanwhile, Matthew Liggins, head of affiliates at agency iProspect speculated that the update could be a way for Facebook to tighten control of ad spending from businesses.
“It's possible that Facebook will be gaining more from businesses from this move, with ad placements they can control in the feed to offer a certain number of views [...] creating a lower volume on the users feed but meaning businesses are paying more for the placement.”
On whether promoted posts by businesses will still appear in the news feed, Ursula Petula Barzey, founder of travel and lifestyle blog Carribean & Co, said “I doubt they will mess with their profitable ad revenue; sponsored posts and dark adverts will remain in newsfeed.”
“All this announcement really means is that organic reach is dead and Facebook is now a pay to play environment for businesses and brands.”
Ongoing clean up
It’s a game-changing move from Facebook that’s arrived following previous plans last year to clean up users’ News Feeds and tighter control on its policies on so-called “engagement clickbait”.
Last May, the social network rolled out an algorithm to reduce the number of “substantive” content posts and “disruptive” ads linked to low-quality “web page experiences”.
Meanwhile, Facebook continues to deal with the impact of “fake news” in wake of 2017’s scandal where $100,000 worth ad spend was generated by suspicious accounts from Russian agents during the US presidential elections.