Science, Technology, and Social Media

Facebook Changes Course, Says It Won’t Separate News Feed After All


by Eric Lieberman

Facebook announced Thursday it no longer plans on altering its News Feed by having one for friends and family then another for sponsored content.

Businesses and organizations heavily reliant on Facebook’s promotional capabilities have been concerned with the experiment because by separating content from brands and publishers by placing it in an “Explore” feed, those entities would naturally get less exposure.

Creating a “pay to play” virtual ecosystem would likely have, for example, forced publishers to purchase real estate on the platform, after years of startups in various industries organically growing essentially free of charge.

“You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds,” Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri wrote in a company blog post after some feedback. “In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”

It is just another initiative Facebook is ditching. Tech companies, especially the highly successful and powerful ones like Facebook, inherently encourage innovation. And that often means a failure or two will occur along the way — something Facebook seems not completely opposed to.

“We constantly try out new features, design changes and ranking updates to understand how we can make Facebook better for everyone,” Mosseri added. “Some of these changes — like Reactions, Live Video and GIFs — work well and go on to become globally available. Others don’t and we drop them.”

Facebook announced in December it was ditching one of its anti-“fake news” initiatives and focusing more on another. The tech giant specifically said it would jettison its “Disputed Flags” program, which instituted indicator warnings for potentially fraudulent or misleading information in certain articles seen on the trending news sidebar or users’ news feeds.

The decision stemmed from academic research, which showed “that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs — the opposite effect to what” it intended.

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