Facebook modifies news feed to bring family, friends closer

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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. "It's good for your well-being".

Those changes undercut publishers, businesses and celebrities who come to the giant social network to gain new audiences and revenue streams but have seen their ability to reach Facebook users continue to decrease.

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook is tweaking what people see to make their time on it more "meaningful" in a move that could hurt publishers and news organizations that rely on it to spread their content. With the latest change, Facebook's algorithm will prioritize posts that spark back-and-forth discussion or inspire people to share and react. Facebook, he said, had closely studied what kinds of posts had stressed or harmed users.

The Facebook CEO announced major changes to news feeds in a post Thursday, saying they have received feedback that "public content-posts from businesses, brands, and media-is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other".

The news feed ranking update, which is set to roll out globally in the coming weeks, is expected to support that goal.

"Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook".

"This is recognition of the issues they've faced with toxic content", said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

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Another wave of criticism pummeling Facebook: that the company's products exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being. Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the social network to spread divisive and inflammatory posts and ads to polarise the United States electorate.

The company has been criticized for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in people's feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election, as well as political discourse in many countries.

As for the future of the Facebook news feed, Zuckerberg states users will see "less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media" and that he expects "the time people spend on Facebook. will go down".

On Thursday, he said numerous discussions about Facebook's responsibilities had prompted the company "to get a better handle on some of the negative things that could happen in the system".

"It's important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world", Zuckerberg said. But the pressure will be on publishers and brands to create content that generates conversations if they want to improve their odds of being seen in News Feed.

Last week, Zuckerberg said his "personal challenge" for 2018 (something he's done every year since 2009), will be to fix Facebook.

Zuckerberg added that his way of running Facebook has shifted since the birth of his two daughters, Maxima and August, in recent years.

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