Facebook is changing its news feed, putting more emphasis on user-generated content, it poses a challenge for publishers.
What does your Facebook feed look like? Is it full of news on what your hundreds of ‘close friends’ are up to, or is it cluttered with news about President Trump and Brexit.
In his recent Radio Four interview with Prince Harry, Barack Obama talked about the days when we got our news from the same sources - he referred to three US programs ‘that we all used to watch’, we can think of the UK equivalents. But what Mr Obama was really lamenting is that back then it mattered not what your politics were - we all heard the same facts. But, he suggested, now we get news from social media, we all get different takes on the news, all with a different spin.
Mr Obama is right, it is as if facts are in the eye of the beholder.
And now Facebook is changing. As Mark Zuckerberg, said: “As we roll (the changes) out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," He talked about the well being of users being better served by connecting with friends rather than “passively reading articles or watching videos."
It’s a tough one for publishers, many of whom have come to rely on Facebook pushing traffic to their websites. It is not easy to build a business model around Facebook generating traffic when you are subject to secretive algorithms that can seemingly be changed on a Zuckerberg whim.
In fact, Facebook is not talking about removing publisher generated news, rather it wants to prioritize content that creates conversation.
This may lead to a less cluttered newsfeed, but will it eliminate the so-called internet filter in which you are only fed news or ‘facts’ that support your pre-existing views?
And if Facebook is going to prioritize content that generates conversation, publishers might be advised to make their content as controversial, opinionated and maybe as obnoxious as possible.
It may not be a change for the best.