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article imageFacebook to emphasise friends above pages, harming publishers

By James Walker     Jun 29, 2016 in Technology
Facebook has announced it is changing the algorithm used for News Feed posts once again, this time to place your friends' status updates above those of publishers and groups. It said it wants to make Facebook a more personal place, emphasising closeness.
In a pair of announcements today, Facebook said it has heard from users who are concerned that posts from friends are being swamped by news alerts, photos and videos from Pages and publishers. After previously launching an update to put friends at the top of the News Feed, it will now place even more emphasis on content created by people you actually know.
Over the next few weeks, Facebook will refine its algorithm so that status updates posted by friends and family become the most important things in the News Feed. These posts will be more likely to appear at the very top of the News Feed where it's most probable you'll see them.
Content posted by Pages will be positioned beneath that of friends and family. Facebook said the change has been requested by many users. For those who follow a lot of Pages, it can be difficult to keep up with friends as the News Feed becomes dominated by impersonal links and articles.
Facebook warned that Pages should anticipate a decline in reach and referral traffic as a consequence of the changes. The algorithm will affect some Pages more than others, depending on their specific audiences and how engaged people are with that particular Page.
Pages where referral traffic primarily comes from people sharing content and friends liking or commenting on it will be left better off than those reliant on their own posts. Friends sharing others' content will make more of an impact on the News Feed as this will now appear towards the top of the feed. Pages may need to adapt to this. "We anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline," said Facebook. It advised Pages post things that their audience is likely to share with their friends.
This update will be received differently by each kind of Facebook user. Those who use the platform to stay in touch with friends and family will welcome the changes. People who use the News Feed to aggregate news sources and read articles may find they need to scroll more to find new stories and Pages could end up facing declining traffic. Facebook maintained that the changes will be positive in the long run though, saying its "top priority" is keeping users connected to important people, places and things.
"We've heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about," it said. "For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed."
In a separate post, Facebook outlined its "News Feed Values" that define how it assesses changes to the algorithm. It wants to put friends and family first, informing and entertaining you while creating a platform that is open to all ideas and able to give equal weighting to each source of story.
It delivers content based on what each individual user wants to see, giving you control of your own Feed. Because so many people have requested the algorithm favour friends over Pages, Facebook has made the change. You'll still be able to control the content in your feed though, promoting sources you care about so they rank higher when scrolling.
The changes will roll out to all users "over the coming weeks." As with previous algorithm changes, they will be phased in gradually and many people are unlikely to notice anything different. For publishers, sharing stories on Facebook just got a little more difficult though, coming after the company's move last year to emphasise video content above links to articles.
More about Facebook, News feed, Social media, Social network, Publishers
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