In the past couple of years, Facebook has seen its image get tarnished severely, and it has deserved it. When it started out, the purpose was to ‘bring people closer’ and that imparted it a favourable public perception- a high it rode on for many years. However, a shift in focus towards businesses and garnering revenue turned it into an outdated means of communication which was full of ads, a frustrating algorithm, and a platform where anything (and everything) could be made up. Last year, it was revealed that it played a major role in the dissemination of fake news during the 2016 US Presidential Election. Since then, it has been struggling to take steps that can make up for that huge mistake.
In a statement released on Jan 11, CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined their plan to revamp how Facebook works. The focus of his announcement was to reduce users’ passive consumption of social media and give more priority to meaningful interactions:
“…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.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. 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. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
The statement also made it clear that this move would reduce of organic (unpaid) posts. It is expected that this will also lead to an initial decrease in revenue as people may end up spending less (but more ‘worthwhile’) time on Facebook.
However, it is worth noting that this move will have no effect on the importance given to paid promotions and advertisements.
Therefore, even though revenue may decrease initially, it'll incentivize businesses to pay more to maintain visibility on people’s feeds. It should be a profitable solution in the long-run.
While this may be a killer shift for the company’s books and public image, businesses will suffer. It will affect small businesses the most as they cannot afford to maintain the same level of visibility through paid advertisements. The only consolation here for them is that loyal customers can choose to prioritize even unpaid posts from their pages, but this has to be done manually. For now, users can celebrate that they will have less unwanted content on their Facebook feeds. Businesses, on the other hand, are scrambling.