It’s bros before business or media at Facebook.
The stated goal of the social networking giant’s news feed is to “show people the stories that are most relevant to them.”
Facebook, which boasts 1.65 billion monthly active users, said it will be making an update to the secretive algorithm it uses to determine which posts users see, and when and where. Vice president of product management Adam Mosseri said this means friends and family come first, so posts from them will come at the top of users’ feeds.
Next in the pecking order are posts that inform, such as updates on a current event or a story about a celebrity, and posts that entertain, such as funny photos.
The update relegates media and business posts to second-string status at a time when both groups are looking to get more out of social media generally.
The decision will be particularly closely watched by publishers, who have come to rely heavily on Facebook to drive traffic in the wake of print declines. According to analytics firm Parse.ly, in June of last year, Facebook surpassed Google in referrals.
Engineering director Lars Backstrom acknowledged that this update means reach and referral traffic for Pages — public profiles on Facebook devoted to businesses or brands — might decline.
“We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends,” Backstrom said, adding that if referral traffic comes from people sharing content or commenting on it, there would be less impact on traffic. For users who want to prioritize posts, they can select to “unfollow,” “hide” or “see first,” leaving the burden on businesses to deliver content that users want to see.
Facebook also stated a preference for authentic stories in place of those that might be “misleading, sensational or spammy.”
The platform has recently faced criticism that it has given preference to stories with a liberal bias in its news feed. Mosseri’s post addressed that concern: “We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspective and view points.”
Mosseri added that this change has become more necessary as more outlets — both people and publishers — publish more and more content to the site. This challenge has also been one faced by Twitter, which has struggled to help users sort through the cacophony.
Mosseri said Facebook’s success was dependent on showing stories that matter most to its user.
Although this update might threaten stories shared by media outlets or updates shared by business, Facebook has been courting publishers in other ways.
In March, Facebook said it had an early beta program that paid publishers to experiment with the live video service Facebook Live.
Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations and media partnerships, said members of the beta program included “partners who had the capabilities to easily produce and test a variety of live programming; partners who had already experimented with live and had some early success; public figure partners who had already demonstrated an early interest in going live via the mentions app; and partners who would have relevant use-cases for live, such as breaking news and personality-driven Q&As.”