Facebook is causing ripples in the news again, but that’s not anything new. They changed their algorithm again, except this change is a swift and deadly blow to many businesses that rely on Facebook. The social media platform has had its ups and downs, but even today, it’s the social application with the most time spent in the app on average. To sum up the bullet points of the change, Facebook has decided that it wants to pay a little respect to where they began and work toward becoming focused on friends and family like it began. Now your digital feed will push posts from your friends and family to the top and anything they share will be bumped up as well. Then below that, will be anything that is from pages you like or news sites. Specifically, this is a killer to small businesses and news sites that have come to rely on Facebook to spread their posts.
The new updated news feed is certain to contain many more “fluff” pieces from less reputable news sites because they’re quick to get your attention and easily relatable and shareable. This move is part of Facebook’s plan to bring attention to live video more by extending the max length and pushing the videos to the top of your feed so that users spend more time on their site. Big competitors like Snapchat and Instagram have been steadily catching up to Facebook now that they both offer longer form video content. On top of the attention with live video, Facebook recently made it possible to simply post a video into the comment section, which could massively increase the time spent on the site. The increased traffic on Facebook leads to more content being shared, leading to more time spent on the site, which proves Facebook’s power over social media.
As media companies adjust to the supreme ruler’s new declarations, Facebook has given them an out by stating that sponsored ads will still appear very high up on the news feed. With advertising on Facebook changing overnight, it is good to mention that content from companies that are truly entertaining, will be much more likely to be shared by a few people and cause a chain reaction to spread all over Facebook feeds. At this point, Facebook has proven that it does not care any more about business posts from big companies than smaller companies. This leaves companies scrambling to find workarounds for the algorithm and solutions will most likely be to create simpler, more shareable videos to appeal to the audience who is much more drawn to “fluff” pieces and have plenty of time to spend on Facebook.
News sites are already taking up so much space on Facebook because it accounts for 41.4% of referral traffic to the news sites. Now there is going to a significant drop in traffic for them, which could actually impact many Facebook users. It is reported that 51% of those surveyed use social media as a source of news each week. On top of that, 28% of 18-24 year olds cite it as their main source of news. For now, we don’t know how this will impact users, but such a large drop in awareness of the news could be bad. Hopefully it won’t end in more “fluff” pieces, but actual informative posts that keep users up to date on what is happening around the world.