Tired of all the public messages overwhelming your Facebook timeline? Well, if you are, it’s time to rejoice, as the social networking giant is working on changing your news feed to accommodate more content from your friends and family and less from “businesses, brands, and media,” as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution to “fix” Facebook.
In a move to ensure that user time is “well spent” on this massive virtual platform, shared by two billion users throughout the world, Zuckerberg wrote in his Thursday post that the inception of the site was based on the core purpose of helping people “stay connected” and bringing them “closer together” with those who mattered the most.
“Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” he explained.
The recent feedback the company has been getting from the Facebook community about the influx of “public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media” overwhelming our “personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” is the reason behind this impactful decision which could and, in all likelihood will, translate into huge losses for Facebook in terms of advertising revenue.
“It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years.
Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other,” he explained, to the delight of all, except the publishers, and understandably so.
The social networking billionaire philanthropist acknowledges Facebook’s responsibility to ensure that the site’s services are not only about “fun to use but also good for people’s well-being.”
So, with the help of “academic research” and Facebook’s “own research with leading experts at universities,” it became apparent that “passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative” did not compare with the sense of well-being that we experience “when we use social media to connect with people we care about.”
“Based on this, 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,” he said.
All said and done, the announcement is kind of redundant after Facebook added the “Snooze” button in December this past year, that affords its two billion users better control over the content in their News Feed.
Using the newly added Snooze option in the top-right menu (…) next to each post on your News Feed, you can temporarily mute not only posts from “businesses, brands and media” but also from friends and family who test your nerves with unwanted or irritating posts.
“We’re testing new ways to give people control over their News Feed so they can stay connected with the stories they find most relevant,” Facebook told TechCrunch at the time.
Some scenarios where the Snooze button comes in handy are:
- Students Snoozing friends, pages and groups that could prove to be major distractions before and during exams
- Snoozing over-zealous friends and groups bombarding your News Feed with stuff that you could well do without, getting them back on when sanity prevails.
- Snoozing brands when they go overboard with their holiday deals.
- Snoozing an ex- whose posts you are better-off without – until you get a hold of your emotions.
The best part about the Snooze feature is that the friend, group, or page being “snoozed” will not get any notification of your action – so, nobody gets offended.
And, when the 30-day snooze is about to expire, Facebook notifies you about it. It’s up to you, then, to allow the muted friend, relative, group, or page back onboard your News Feed or shut them up for another month in the interest of your sanity.
“One of the things that I’m most proud of and I think is really key to our success is this testing framework we’ve built,” Zuckerberg had told Reid Hoffman on the podcast Masters of Scale, explaining the Snooze feature. “At any given point in time there isn’t just one version of Facebook running, there’s probably 10,000.”
“One of our core News Feed values is giving people more control. Over the next week, we’re launching Snooze, which will give you the option to temporarily unfollow a person, Page or group for 30 days.
By selecting Snooze in the top-right drop-down menu of a post, you won’t see content from those people, Pages or groups in your News Feed for that time period,” the Facebook team had said about the feature.
All these recent announcements are coming at a time when the company is facing serious questions about the platform’s adverse effect on children’s psyche and society in general, with a former Facebook employee going as far as to say that social networking platforms are destroying the very fabric of society.
“Social networks are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works and eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other,” former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiy said during an interview at Stanford University in November.
Coming back to Zuckerberg’s Thursday announcement, he closed with the following words.
“At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.”