It looks like Facebook wants your news feed to grow up. The social network has announced that it will be now be prioritising actual news, from “high quality” sources in your feed.
What this theoretically means is that you’ll see an increasing number of links to news-related articles in your feed and fewer overly recycled memes.
“People use Facebook to share and connect, including staying current on the latest news, whether it’s about their favorite celebrity or what’s happening in the world,” the social network says. “We’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing articles on Facebook, and so we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from News Feed on mobile.”
While the move sounds great, Facebook isn’t exactly clear on what counts as high quality content, which means that it’s difficult to gauge how the update will affect stories like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy that rely on being shared over social networks for their virality.
That said, the social network is also set to start bumping up stories a lot of your friends comment on. That means those stories might live on in your news feed for a while, with new comments highlighted.
The move is also meant to complement another new feature, which means that after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles directly below the news feed post to “help you discover more content you may find interesting”.
Catching up with Twitter
While Facebook couched the announcement in language suggesting that the new feature is built specifically with the user in mind there are undoubtedly other motives behind it. Foremost on that front is the fact that it’s fallen a bit behind Twitter when it comes to being a go-to source for news. As recently published research from Pew notes, 47% of Facebook users get most of their news from the social network, versus 52% of Twitter users.
In its bid to redress that, Facebook has already signed deals with a number of international TV companies after agreeing to provide the US’s biggest TV stations with detailed insights into how many likes, comments, shares and posts have been generated in response to a specific episode and how many people were involved in the discussion.
While meme addicts might not be thrilled with the update, it might have the neat side effect of making life just a little bit more difficult for ‘like farmers‘ — the people who semi-illicitly gather thousands of likes for a page before selling it to big corporate.