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Facebook’s putting friends and family first, though not necessarily in that order

You should avoid whoever this smug fucker is, though (Photo: Thanasak Wanichpan/Getty Images)

Facebook regularly tweaks the algorithm it uses to organize your newsfeed, the better to bring you updates from your favorite political candidates or pop culture sites with. Up until recently, it might have felt like those changes had shifted the focus away from the thousands of summer weddings and music festivals that could have been unfolding before your social media-scouring eyes to, say, articles about how to plan the perfect backyard wedding, or a media outlet’s coverage of said music festivals. And that’s basically what Facebook has been doing—pushing “publisher” content onto its billion-plus users in place of your brother’s lunch photos or your boss’ inspirational memes.

But it looks like Facebook is turning the tables on those news producers with the announcement that it is revising the algorithm yet again to bring posts from users’ friends and family back to the forefront. The social media company now says that’s its new “driving principle” and “top priority.” So now Facebook users are their own curators—for example, the more you like your friends’ political status updates, the higher those posts will place in your news feed going forward.


This is all ostensibly to help you get back in touch with your loved ones, though you might be pressed for time in the future, since you’ll have to find another means of keeping up with the news, especially if you’re of a certain/any age. But you’ll still see some news, entertainment and otherwise, in your feed so long as your friends and family are sharing it in their own posts. This means everyone’s a curator, but not Facebook (except when it comes to suppressing trending stories with a conservative bent).

So, the good news is that you won’t have to wade through quite as many posts from publication and other business pages. But now those pages, which had already seen their organic reach hindered by previous changes in Facebook’s algorithm, will have an even more difficult time getting breaking news as well as more thoughtful content to their followers. The social media platform has acknowledged that there will be a “drop in reach and referral traffic for publishers” whose content is primarily seen by its Facebook followers. However, the new algorithm won’t prevent publishers’ posts that are being shared by Facebook users from being seen. But businesses can take heart in the knowledge that surely everyone’s bookmarked their actual websites by now, or at least added them to their reading lists.

[via The New York Times]

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