Expect more changes to your News Feed.
Discussing the company’s Q4 earnings on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said a “series” of changes are coming to the News Feed as the social network looks to cut down on “passive experiences” like watching viral videos, and promote more interactions with friends. This will lead to better “longterm measures of wellbeing,” as the 33-year-old founder put it.
“When you see a photo from a friend in News Feed, that’s not just content that makes you smile or laugh. It’s an opportunity to connect with that friend, to reach out to them and remind them that you care about each other,” said Zuckerberg. “That connection is deeply important to us as people.”
The exec alluded to the increased scrutiny Facebook and other social platforms have received in the last year. Facebook has been skewered for Russian trolls leveraging the platform to spread disinformation during the 2016 U.S. election; its also been criticized for warping the minds of its users.
“The world is anxious and divided and that played out on Facebook… we have a responsibility to fully understand how our services are used and to do everything we can to amplify the good, and prevent the harm,” said Zuckerberg.
Of course, it’s not simply an altruistic reason for tweaking the News Feed. Facebook’s massive ad business — which pulled in nearly $13 billion during Q4, the company announced on Wednesday — depends on users enjoying the experience.
It’s why Zuckerberg didn’t sound overly concerned time spent on the platform had dropped about 50 million hours on average each day — or about 2 minutes per daily user. Getting users to interact, Zuckerberg argued, will lead to more interactions with ads: “when you care about something, you’re willing to see ads to experience it.”
Facebook has already announced several changes to the News Feed in 2018. The company introduced a two-question survey for users to rank how “trustworthy” an article is. And earlier this week, Facebook announced a shift towards promoting more local news in the News Feed.