Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Technology | By Russell Knight

Facebook begins testing local news app

Facebook begins testing local news app

In an attempt to bring Facebook back to its roots, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social media network's News Feed will undergo a major overhaul this year.

But I'm writing this because I think the expectation for some people is that clicking like or follow means that you'll see posts from that page, and that just won't be the case any more-and actually, things have been changing for a while.

"People will actually spend less time on Facebook, but we feel good about that because it will make the time they do spend more valuable, and be good for our business in the end".

Going "Local" spells out the theme for Facebook over the last 18 months as it started providing more posts from local politicians and is also expanding Marketplace, its Craigslist-style platform that is used by people for sale of products to their neighbors.

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Until this point, Facebook has been increasingly emphasizing video content in its News Feed. Most of that video content is not promoted in News Feed but can be found by clicking on the Watch tab. Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the social network to spread divisive and inflammatory posts and ads to polarize the USA electorate.

Early Facebook executive and former vice president of growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, also accused Facebook of creating "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops" that are "destroying how society works".

Facebook and other researchers have particularly homed in on passive content. "Not only will you be more effective, you will achieve greater reach at a lower cost", he said, adding that less inventory could see the cost of advertising on Facebook go up.

As a result of these changes, a user's News Feed will put emphasis on posts from Facebook friends and family members over posts from news sites and specific group pages. This required Facebook to "refocus the system", he said.

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The news feed ranking update, which is set to roll out globally in the coming weeks, is expected to support that goal.

In an exclusive video interview with CNN Tech's Laurie Segall, Facebook VP Adam Mosseri described the move as a "rebalancing" of how Facebook's algorithms rank items in the main feed. It's worth noting that a lot of people were already not seeing much news in their feeds anyway.

"We want to make sure that our products are not just fun but are good for people", Zuckerberg said.

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