Expect big changes to your Facebook feed in 2018
If you've been following politics then you're aware of the troubles Facebook has recently encountered due to disseminating Russian propaganda or "fake news." Last week, Mark Zuckerbrerg made a huge announcement that doesn't directly address the fake news issue but certainly sends the message that they don't want to be responsible to the public for editorial integrity.
Facebook is updating its algorithm to re-prioritize "meaningful interactions" on your Facebook feed. What that means for you is less content from the publishers and news sites that you've chosen to follow. This decision feels like a heavy-handed over-correction to their fake news issue. Facebook almost certainly has the means to efficiently address the issue of misinformation. For example, rather than silencing all publishers they could instead require a level of editorial authentication. That way, a random person couldn't create a site that looks like a news outlet and spread their links on the social platform. I suspect though that this over-correction will greatly benefit Facebook's financials and their latest congressional issues are just a convenient excuse.
What's important to understand about Facebook is that it doesn't make its money by helping you to stay connected to people. In reality, Facebook makes its money from the ads publishers and companies buy to get onto your feeds. Facebook is an ad company and the more competitive their ad space is, the more they can charge for it.
This latest algorithm change isn't the first time Facebook has stifled publisher's abilities to organically deliver the content you've chosen to see. Today, if you follow our site on Facebook there's only a 1% chance that you will see updates from us on your feed. Instead, you're seeing updates from people you know but primarily ads from companies who have paid to get onto your feed. Currently, if we want more of our Facebook followers to see our content then we have to buy ads. Going forward, Facebook has announced that you have even less than a 1% chance of seeing our content. For publishers who rely on Facebook to build relationships with their readers, this is a huge blow.
If history is any indication it sounds like your Facebook feed will go to whichever companies and publishers are willing to pay the highest bid. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, cited that studies show that people spending passive time scrolling through their news feed makes them unhappy. Facebook doesn't want to be known for detracting from its users' overall well-being, and that I can appreciate.
What Zuckerberg is referring to is not just an issue with Facebook. Every social media platform's goal is to grow their user base enough to turn their feeds into desirable ad space. In that sense, all social media sites are ad companies. Or, at least they're aspiring to be. At a certain point, all social media sites depart from their original charm and devolve into an ad disseminating powerhouse. So, this algorithm change while almost certainly make Facebook a lot more money. But, it could also trigger a richer cultural shift for social media. Maybe this means Facebook will indeed get back to its roots of a more genuine platform for connecting?
So what are your thoughts? How has your usage of Facebook changed over the years? How do you feel about Facebook making it harder for you to get content from the publishers you enjoy? Let's discuss below.