Have you heard? Facebook wants to show the world that there is still hope that it can be a positive force in peoples’ lives.
Since the 2016 U.S. election, Facebook has come under scrutiny for fake news stories and enabling social media addiction. It hasn’t helped that the media seems fixated on the negative consequences of Facebook and other social networks and that even Facebook executives including Marc Zuckerberg have recently expressed regret about what they have built.
All that is supposed to change given a few flips to the algorithm and presto change a priority will be given to content that “sparks” conversations. Yes, on January 11th, Facebook announced a major change to its News Feed. It has decided to prioritize posts from friends and family over posts from publishers and brands to be able to find and to prioritize content that encouraging users to have more conversations and connections with peers, rather than being bombarded by brands.
To enforce this new approach, the company has even come up with a new mission statement: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
“You pick a publisher based on your interests, which are more correlated with your beliefs… You pick a friend for lots of different reasons,” Zuckerberg said. “Because this [change] is naturally good for friend content and for conversation, it’s actually going to be good for the diversity of opinion in News Feed.”
Earlier this month, Zuckerberg said his personal goal for 2018 is to focus on “fixing” Facebook’s many problems. The News Feed change has already made publishers nervous and investors concerned about it now being harder for businesses to reach customers on the Facebook platform. The News Feed update is the first fix that will refocus the company on the quality of time users spend on the platform, rather than the quantity.
It seems that Zuckerberg, now a father of two, has got him thinking not about Facebook’s image but also his own. Zuckerberg has spoken about his renewed interest in his legacy recently by saying: “It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world.”
It is always refreshing to hear of someone that wields so much power on what and how we interact with each other today puts his heart, mind and money in the right place and starts thinking of the vehicle they created as a power for social good and meaningful interaction. Let’s see, given we have a voice in all this if we can hold him to refocus Facebook to be the positive force that he hopes it will be.