SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced late last week that the platform will overhaul its news feed to prioritise posts from family and friends.

In a move that is likely to have major implications for brands and publishers, it will mean that Facebook’s two billion users will receive fewer articles, videos and other media content.

In a post to Facebook late last Thursday, Zuckerberg said he is instructing the company’s product teams to focus on helping users find “relevant content” and have more “meaningful social interactions”.

Although the changes are likely to take months to work their way through to all of Facebook’s products, Zuckerberg said the first changes will be seen in news feed.

“As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” he wrote. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

He made clear that, by making these changes, the amount of time people spend on Facebook – and some other measures of engagement – will go down. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable,” he stated.

And in a further sign of the seriousness of Facebook’s intent, the company’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, confirmed in a separate post that Facebook will show “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses”.

“The impact will vary from page to page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it,” he said.

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Mosseri also warned that Facebook would no longer tolerate “engagement bait” that “goad” people into commenting on posts. That’s because Facebook does not regard this activity as a meaningful interaction.

Some publishers reacted to the news by telling Advertising Age that Facebook had been rather secretive about its plans to change the news feed.

But the development comes little more than a week after Zuckerberg announced in a New Year’s message that he was focused on “fixing” a number of problems that have dogged Facebook for some time.

Sourced from Facebook, Advertising Age; additional content by WARC staff