Facebook has announced a change to its “News Feed” so disruptive it caused their stock to plummet by 5%.
The changes will dramatically alter the way you access information on the platform. This includes the alternative media and information that’s shaped us all for the better.
“Now, I want to be clear,” said Zuckerberg in a post Thursday evening, “by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
So What Are The Changes?
Well, as the CEO himself explained:
“…we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
“…The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media…”
In other words, Facebook is essentially censoring content it doesn’t think is “healthy” for you and then spoonfeeding you the leftovers that they assume are good.
My Facebook News Feed post overhaul: The same posts from friends shown to me over and over. No, I am not going to engage with something I already scrolled by, even from a good friend. Stop showing it to me. It’s boring.
— Melissa Pamer (@mpamer) January 16, 2018
But Why The Changes?
Why now? What caused this multi-billion dollar company to shoot itself in the foot?
It all began when research indicated that social media consumption could be bad for users’ health.
As Mark put it:
“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.
“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health.
“On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”
But here’s where this whole thing starts to fall apart, and potentially more…nefarious motives may become apparent.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 12, 2018
As Elani Stefanou pointed out in her article for The Guardian titled “Facebook’s News Feed Change Won’t Help Social Media Addiction”:
“Zuckerberg is essentially saying that the problem – and its remedy – boil down to the contents of the news feed.
“But there’s a bigger issue he failed to mention. Psychologists and academics have long been sounding the alarm over the addictive qualities of social media, which extend far beyond the news feed.
“A number of concerned former Facebook employees, including Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network), have come forward to confirm that many of the platform’s features were consciously engineered to induce a dopamine hit in order to keep people hooked.”
Elani goes on to cite features like Facebook Messenger, Live Stream, and social validation feedback loops that all have builtin mechanisms that keep us coming back for more—hardly beneficial for our “well-being.”
So why would Facebook come out at such a time—all in a supposed attempt to improve our well-being—by cracking down on content created by publishers like ourselves and many others—all while ignoring the countless other unhealthy mechanisms that comprise a far greater portion of the platform?
Something’s not adding up.
One has to speculate what the company’s actual motives are. Is this just an elaborate, underhanded way of censoring the free flow of information that threatens the establishment?
Or is it Zuckerberg’s way of distancing himself from the so-called “fake news” phenomenon?
Whatever the actual intention, one thing is for sure. There are countless features on Facebook that can be considered detrimental to one’s health—least of which is seeing enlightening information pop up on your News Feed.
So now, instead of learning a thing or two while scrolling Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg wants you to wallow in the digital envy of staring at your friends’ lunch selfies.