Facebook might be about to make its most profound change to the news feed since it launched.
The site has announced that it will redesign how it ranks the posts and pages that appear to its users every day. By doing this, it could change the information and news that is consumed by billions of people, fundamentally altering the media landscape.
The change suggests that Facebook thinks something is deeply wrong with how it works, and it is intent on fixing it.
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Indeed, that was the message of Mark Zuckerberg’s annual challenge – something he’s done since 2009, but which have mostly focused on extracurricular or lighthearted commitments. This year, he offered a far more substantial challenge: to fix his social media platform.
The real difference is the way the site will alter how posts are ranked in the news feed. Everything that’s posted on Facebook is ordered in various ways to try to convey what’s most relevant – how new it is, who it was posted by, whether people are clicking on it, and so on – and it’s the algorithm that decides that ranking that will change.
From now, it will attempt to push posts that come from family and friends, rather than brands. So less of the news stories, memes and shops that might take over your feed; more of the people you know in real life.
“With this update, we will also prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people,” the company said in a blog post alongside the announcement. “To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video…