“Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits” said Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook's Q3'17 earnings call.
It's been reported that Facebook will be making a significant change to its News Feed algorithm, so that people will see less inane publisher content (mindless videos and guilty-pleasure articles), and more personalised content from their friends and family - particularly content that will spark back-and-forth engagement between users.
Whilst Zuckerberg and Co have principally packaged this as a move for the good of the community (which I do believe it is), I can't help but feel the primary driver for this is the decline in original broadcast sharing and the overall increase in reticence amongst today's Facebook userbase. Both Zuckerberg and Adam Mosseri (Facebook's VP of News Feed) have warned that the overall time spent on Facebook is likely to decrease as a result of this change. In my view, this is a small price to pay if the result of staying with the status quo would foster a continued decline in original broadcast sharing and an increasingly passive user experience that ultimately makes for poorer, less meaningful user experiences on Facebook.
In any case, it's interesting and refreshing to see a public company announce a plan to immediately weaken its position to improve the experience of its users.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook today, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri tells TechCrunch “I expect that the amount of distribution for publishers will go down because a lot of publisher content is just passively consumed and not talked about. Overall time on Facebook will decrease, but we think this is the right thing to do.” The winners in this change will be users and their sense of community, since they should find Facebook more rewarding and less of a black hole of wasted time viewing mindless video clips and guilty-pleasure articles. Long-term, it should preserve Facebook’s business and ensure it still has a platform to provide referral traffic for news publishers and marketers.