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Christy Chesterton / Jan. 12, 2018

Facebook’s Feed Filtering

If we’ve chosen to “like” a page, that means we want to see it. We don’t need or want Facebook determining that for us.

In what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “a major change in how we build Facebook,” the company announced Thursday that it plans to reduce publisher and brand content in news feeds while prioritizing what friends and family interact with. “[R]ecently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” Zuckerberg wrote yesterday in a Facebook post. “Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other. We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”

Zuckerberg’s announcement was spurred in part by recent criticism from several former employees, including one who expressed “tremendous guilt” for his role in building the platform. “It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya told Stanford business students last month.

In a rare move, Facebook addressed some of this criticism in a post questioning whether the amount of time spent on social media is good for us or drives us apart.

While concern about society’s dependence on social media is a very valid matter, Facebook’s announcement highlights the amount of control the platform has in determining what is “best” for your viewing pleasure. The move will likely have a significant impact on businesses and organizations (like ours) that depend on the platform to reach customers and readers. It’s no secret that Facebook has already been suppressing conservative news. Perhaps that’s because they blame Liberty lovers for “ripping apart the social fabric”?

In fact, in addition to the news feed change, The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is considering “ranking news outlets based on some measures of credibility, such as public polling about news outlets, and whether readers are willing to pay for news from particular publishers.” Given Facebook’s aforementioned history with conservative sites, this bears watching.

Bottom line: Mr. Zuckerberg, if we’ve chosen to “like” a page, that means we want to see it. We don’t need or want you determining that for us.

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