Facebook announces changes to News Feed to ensure users' time is well-spent

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has announced changes to how the social network's news feed works, making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent. It has also been questioned about how its algorithms might have prioritized inaccurate news in News Feeds, thereby, influencing the recent American presidential election.

In other words, Facebook wants its products to be fun and useful for its users.

While Mark Zuckerberg has taken a personal financial hit as a result of the plans, it is thought that the changes will increase Facebook's commercial value in the long run. People will likely spend less time on Facebook as a result, the company says.

Facebook has trained individuals, brands and publishers to rewire their brains towards an instinctual pursuit of what they believe will capture that satisfying like or lucrative share.

This seems to be a problem for many people who rely on online social networks for getting news of local and global events happening in the country and around the world.

"What are we really here to do?" he told The Times. But is he throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?

In September, in another blow for the social network, ProPublica reported that Facebook's ad-buying platform could be used to deliver ads to users who identify as anti-Semites. You'll see more stuff from your friends and family and less from pages you like and, most importantly, this news source.

The goal of the product teams will be to help Facebook's more than two billion monthly users find content that will lead to more meaningful social interactions, he said. And The Wall Street Journal noted that Facebook was still undecided about adding the authority component; without that, the possible negative impact from these news feed changes could be even worse. BuzzFeed News, which built its distribution largely through Facebook, already reacted to the algorithm change Thursday with a Facebook ad prompting users to download the BuzzFeed app before news disappears from the feed. In short: more pet/baby/food photos and birthday messages, fewer links to your favourite news site (hi!). Facebook now calls this "passive" consumption, and they want to move away from it.

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.

Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.

Zuckerberg wrote on a post on Thursday that the company has received feedback that public content from businesses, brands, and media have crowded people's social media feed and have left little space for personal posts where people usually interact with others. Zuckerberg recognised that videos and other public content have "exploded' on the social media site in the past years".

But businesses that use Facebook to connect with their customers without paying for ads will also feel the pain.

He quoted an academic research pointing out that interactions with the loved ones are more healthy and important for a person's wellbeing, instead of just reading news articles or watching shared videos.

"Maybe there is less opportunity to be viewed with the prioritization changes, or if we try to talk to everybody on Facebook, it might be harder to come by", she said.