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Facebook to emphasize friends, not news, in series of changes

12 January 2018

In a Facebook post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would direct product teams to focus on helping people find meaningful social interactions.

Facebook introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that its more than 2 billion members will see most, saying on Thursday that it will prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.

The changes are meant to maximize the amount of content with "meaningful interaction" that people consume on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, said in an interview. The company has long pushed users to spend more time on the social network.

As Facebook continues its efforts to squeeze in more information in the user timeline, the platform is reportedly testing a new feature that would show users local news and events judging by their location.

Facebook and its social media competitors have been inundated by criticism that their products reinforce users' views on social and political issues and lead to addictive viewing habits, raising questions about possible regulation and the businesses' long-term viability.

"We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren't just fun to use but also good for people's well-being", he added.

Early Facebook executive and former vice president of growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, also accused Facebook of creating "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops" that are "destroying how society works". On the other hand, passively scrolling through social media does not.

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The first changes will be observed on its News Feed, which will show more posts from friends, family and groups.

He added that Facebook had begun making changes in this direction past year.

Facebook has revealed new measures it would be taking to "bring people closer together and build relationships".

In an exclusive video interview with CNN Tech's Laurie Segall, Facebook VP Adam Mosseri described the move as a "rebalancing" of how Facebook's algorithms rank items in the main feed.

"As an industry, if customers are not enjoying the experience of our advertising, then we need to rethink how we go about doing that advertising". "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".

Google, Twitter and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news - some of which was directed by Russian Federation - ahead of the 2016 USA election and in other countries.

Facebook to emphasize friends, not news, in series of changes