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Facebook focuses on friends, not news

Facebook Inc. has begun to change the way it filters publications and videos into its main Feed News element, the beginning of what Mark Zuckerberg said would be a series of changes in the design of the world’s largest social network.

Zuckerberg, in a detailed article on Facebook, said the company will change the News Feed filter to prioritize what friends and family share, while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands. .

Facebook, which owns four of the world’s most popular smartphone apps, including Instagram, has for years favored hardware that its complex computer algorithms believe people will use through comments, likes, or other ways to show. their interest. .

Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder, said it would no longer be the goal.

“I’m changing the goal I’m giving our product teams to focus on helping them find relevant content to help them have more meaningful social interactions,” wrote Zuckerberg.

The change probably means that the time that people spend on Facebook and certain participation measures would decrease in the short term, he wrote, but added that it would be better for users and for long-term business.

Advertising on the social network would not be affected by the changes, said John Hegeman, vice president of Facebook, in an interview.

Facebook and its competitors in social networks have been inundated by criticism that their products reinforce users’ views on social and political issues and lead to addictive listening habits, raising questions about possible regulation and long-term sustainability of companies.

The company has been criticized by algorithms that have been able to prioritize misleading news and misinformation in people’s information, influence the 2016 US presidential election, as well as political rhetoric in many countries.

Last year, Facebook revealed that Russian agents had used the network to spread inflammatory messages in order to polarize the American electorate.

Congress is expected to hold more hearings this month, questioning the role of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube in spreading propaganda.

Zuckerberg said a review of the company’s products, starting with changes in the algorithms that control News Feed, would help address these concerns. Similar changes will be made to other products in the coming months, he said.

“We feel responsible for ensuring that our services are not only fun to use but also good for the well-being of people,” wrote Zuckerberg.

With over 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. It is also one of the largest companies in the world and reported $ 36 billion in revenue, primarily advertising, in the 12 months ending September 30.

The abandonment of non-advertising content produced by companies could be a blow to news organizations, many of which use Facebook to increase readership, but Zuckerberg said many of these publications were not in good health.

“Some news helps to start conversations about important issues, but too often today, watching videos, reading news, or getting an update of the page is just a passive experience,” she said. he writes.