Facebook said today it will tweak the algorithms that control content in users’ news feeds to show more things that have been shared by friends and family, and less content from advertisers and publishers.
The news feed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, will show less “passive content” that invites users only to sit back and watch or read. Users will see less viral videos and articles sponsored by brands, for example. Facebook said the changes are the result of research into the ways users respond emotionally to various types of content on the site.
The changes also come after a firestorm of debate over Facebook’s role in fostering the super-polarized political environment that helped bring Donald Trump to power in 2016. Facebook has been a distributor of fake news, and, many believe, creates a filter bubble where users can easily be shut off from opposing viewpoints.
“We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people,” Zuckerberg told the New York Times’ Mike Isaac. “We need to refocus the system.” But the changes announced today aren’t likely to counter fake news and filter bubbles. Facebook is simply tweaking its algorithms to emphasize what it has always wanted–a feel-good-only atmosphere where users are receptive to advertising.