Mark Zuckerberg announces overhaul of Facebook news feed
Facebook has vowed to promote interactions with friends and family in a bid to make using the platform "more meaningful." Users will see fewer posts by media outlets and firms in their news feed, Mark Zuckerberg said.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced a major revamp to users' news feeds on Thursday, saying that the changes would likely make users spend less time on the platform.
However, the update would help people on Facebook have "more meaningful social interactions," he added in an online post.
"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us," the 33-year-old co-founder of Facebook said. "But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments."
To counter this, the social network has started reworking its algorithms to help users connect with friends and family. While details on the update remain vague, it was reported that the network would emphasize posts by people close to users and encourage personal interaction.
"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people," Zuckerberg said.
Free speech or illegal content?
Whether hate speech, propaganda or activism, governments across the globe have upped efforts to curb content deemed illegal from circulating on social networks. From drawn-out court cases to blanket bans, DW examines how some countries try to stop the circulation of illicit content while others attempt to regulate social media.
Social media law
After a public debate in Germany, a new law on social media came into effect in October. The legislation imposes heavy fines on social media companies, such as Facebook, for failing to take down posts containing hate speech. Facebook and other social media companies have complained about the law, saying that harsh rules might lead to unnecessary censorship.
Right to be forgotten
In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that European citizens had the right to request search engines, such Google and Bing, remove "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive" search results linked to their name. Although Google has complied with the ruling, it has done so reluctantly, warning that it could make the internet as "free as the world's least free place."
In May 2017, Ukraine imposed sanctions on Russian social media platforms and web services. The blanket ban affected millions of Ukrainian citizens, many of whom were anxious about their data. The move prompted young Ukrainians to protest on the streets, calling for the government to reinstate access to platforms that included VKontakte (VK), Russia's largest social network.
In 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that Safe Harbor, a 15-year-old pact between the US and EU that allowed the transfer of personal data without prior approval, was effectively invalid. Austrian law student Max Schrems launched the legal proceedings against Facebook in response to revelations made by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden.
In China, the use of social media is highly regulated by the government. Beijing has effectively blocked access to thousands of websites and platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Instead, China offers its citizens access to local social media platforms, such as Weibo and WeChat, which boast hundreds of millions of monthly users.
Twitter bans Russia-linked accounts
Many politicians and media outlets blame Russia's influence for Donald Trump's election victory in 2016. Moscow reportedly used Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram to shape public opinion on key issues. In October 2017, Twitter suspended over 2,750 accounts due to alleged Russian propaganda. The platform also banned ads from RT (formerly Russia Today) and the Sputnik news agency.
Facebook announces propaganda-linked tool
With social media under pressure for allowing alleged Russian meddling, Facebook announced a new project to combat such efforts in November 2017. The upcoming page will give users a chance to check if they "liked" or followed an alleged propaganda account on Facebook or Instagram. Meanwhile, Facebook has come under fire for not protecting user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg said that the services provided by his company should not just be "fun to use, but also good for people's well-being."
Zuckerberg also said that he expected "the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down."
At the same time, the move would likely be good for business "over the long term," he added.
While non-paying businesses and news outlets might see a reduction in their Facebook traffic, the overhaul would not affect advertising on the social network, said Facebook Vice President John Hegeman.