To Please Users And Halt Fake News, Facebook Makes It Harder For Real News Outlets

By David Pierson and Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Facebook says it will change its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts from friends and family that spark the most interaction over posts from brands and publishers.

Los Angeles Times

With more than 2 billion users, Facebook for years gave media outlets a shot at a vast audience that could help offset declining circulations.

But after a year in which the spread of fake news, Russian interference and divisive politics sullied Facebook’s reputation and user experience, efforts to deliver media content over the platform may have felt like more trouble than they were worth.

Last Thursday, Facebook said it would change its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts from friends and family that spark the most interaction over posts from brands and publishers.

The company said the move was aimed at improving users’ well-being, even at the cost of diminished advertising revenue. The change will also help distance the company from the pitfalls of politically charged content that has saddled the platform since the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a post Thursday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the changes were spurred by research that showed people had a more positive response to social media when interacting with people they cared about.

“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,” Zuckerberg said.

The change will benefit Facebook’s long-term prospects, analysts say, but it will almost immediately harm news publishers that increasingly turned to the social network for distribution.

What it means for publishers
With circulations dwindling, publishers flocked to Facebook in recent years as an imperfect alternative to reach a wider audience that had grown more reliant than ever on the social network to remain informed.

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