In Facebook’s perfect world, your News Feed would possibly look something like this:
There’s a post from a family member or close friend, ideally a tagged picture that’s thoughtful and vital to them however also to the people around them. The post causes plenty of people click on Facebook’s numerous reaction buttons and contribute reasoned comments that spur real discussion, in turn connecting people around common ideas and causes that they may not have otherwise found. This then keeps them on Facebook more and contributing stuff that makes people remain on Facebook more. Eventually, that’s your entire feed.
I’m unsure I’ve not ever seen that
post, nor is that the type of post that made Facebook into the
mega-giant international power that it’s these days. However they’re making an attempt.
Facebook took another baby step toward that utopian world. The corporate announced that it’ll begin downgrading posts that beg for engagement. No more “tag a friend” or “comment if you like this.”
It’s yet one more step in Facebook’s in progress effort to clean up the type of posts users see in their News Feed. The same as crackdowns on clickbait headlines, it’s another negative indicator.
But what about a positive indicator? What does Facebook want to see? What in Facebook’s estimation is the ideal post?
Josh Elman helped build Twitter and Facebook; therefore it’s safe to say he understands these platforms like few other people alive. And he hasn’t been really optimistic concerning what they’ve valued.
He recently referenced Twitter cofounder @ev Williams in a tweet that has stuck with me:
I still like @ev’s phrase on this the best: if the globe was data driven, it’d see that people love watching car accidents and make a lot of them. It’s time for FB and Twitter to move beyond automobile accidents.
this reflects concerning Facebook
and Twitter, and what it reflects concerning people, is the same issue. The things we have a tendency to wish people would engage with and value don’t seem to be the things they have a tendency to engage with or value at least in an absolute
basis. a part of human nature isn’t nice, and that half turns out to be low hanging fruit for platforms like Facebook
This has become an undeniably bad factor. Look no further than the use of Facebook and Twitter by Russia as a method to spread propaganda and misinformation. These corporations weaponized attention, and then Russia weaponized the platforms.
But there’s some good news here. Facebook and Twitter have both appeared to flip a corner, albeit more sort of a large ocean liner than a speedboat. Twitter has finally begun to crack down on the Nazis that have turned swaths of its community into a toxic wilderness. Facebook has continued to crackdown on low quality content, to scuttle stuff that will usually be thought of digital garbage.
efforts are smart from the outside; however still represent a problem for the social network.
For a few years, the
algorithms that power Facebook’s News Feed adored posts that linked out to websites.
The results of this
was an explosion of
media corporations that
fed Facebook users lots of stuff
— including the
digital equivalent of automobile accidents.
Around that point, Facebook began to suffer from a decline in how much people shared with their network. the sole thing that currently seems to share, as Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal wrote, is that the “outrageous and contagious,” which happened to be great for Russia’s U.S. election campaign. A recent pew research center report found this to be worryingly correct even when it comes to elected officials.
And it’s important to note these links sent people off from Facebook, that isn’t exactly a good thing when you’re making an attempt to occupy as much of people’s time as possible.
Meanwhile, the rise of Snapchat has had an undeniable impact on Facebook, a notion that’s as plain as the copying of stories into both Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat succeeded because it remained centered on making a place and products that make people want to share with their friends and family whereas adding on a completely separate media experience.
Facebook, by comparison, kept it all in the news feed, although even that’s currently slowly beginning to change. The “Explore” feed is live and slowly turning into a much bigger part of the puzzle. Facebook has even tested a format where the News Feed is entirely friends and family while Explore is all pages from publishers. This would create an experience kind of like Snapchat, which additionally recently simplified to a similar system.
In this world, asking about Facebook’s ideal post is a trick question in that the answer is unsustainable. Facebook may become Facebook thanks to automobile accidents; however it couldn’t remain Facebook that way.
Now, with Facebook’s split feeds, the perfect post is actually two posts. One is from your family or friends or a community you care about that helps you connect. The opposite is from a publisher who is manufacturing something high quality and, ideally monetizable (oh hi, Facebook Watch). It’s sharing or consumption, not sharing and consumption.
This is excellent news and bad news for publishers, who have already seen Facebook traffic dip sharply. The platform simply isn’t going to shove links in front of people; however it’s also continuing to push out the rubbish that turned Facebook into a place to gawk at automobile accidents and fake news. If we’re to believe “the medium is the message,” publishers ought to relish getting out of the news feed and into a high-quality environment that still has the upper side of Facebook’s two billion people.
Facebook became Facebook on virality, which is great at creating something massive, however not necessarily great at creating a healthy network within the long term. Now, it’s working to figure out how it can take full advantage of the enormous network it designed by making sure its users find value — what CEO Mark Zuckerberg terms as “community.”