Facebook changes News Feed

7 03 2013

Facebook unveiled an updated
look to its News Feed feature
today, a core element of the
social networking site’s interface
since nearly its start.
From their Menlo Park, California
headquarters Thursday morning,
the Silicon Valley giants gave
journalists and bloggers an
overview of the new changes to the
site. After, Facebook announced
that new changes would start being
rolled out immediately. Users of
the desktop website will start
seeing changes on Thursday, the
company confirmed, with mobile
and tablet users seeing design
changes occurring during the next
few weeks.
Zuckerberg has described News
Feed as being one of the “Three
Pillars of the Facebook ecosystem,”
joining the Timeline and Graph
Search features. Those elements
were rolled out in 2011 and 2013,
respectively, with News Feed being
one of the more antiquated
features of the website — it
debuted in 2006. During Thursday’s
unveiling, he said he wanted that
core element to help bring the
most relevant and important
information directly to the user.
The new News Feed, said
Zuckerberg, will “give everyone in
the world the best personalized
newspaper in the world.”
Zuckerberg said the News Feed has
become primarily about displaying
visual content since the number of
smart phone users have continued
to increase, and that since the end
of 2011 “almost 50 percent of
the content” is visual. By
reorganizing the design, Zuckerberg
and company hopes to make a
more appealing product that will
present customers with better
content, both aesthetically and
based off of their personal
“How we are all sharing is
changing. And the design of your
newsfeed needs to reflect this
evolving face of News Feed and
who you’re sharing with,” he
Ahead of the press conference,
Facebook only admitted that the
unveiling would involve a revamped
News Feed, the central stream of
postings, photographs and other
updates that any particular user
can see to check out information
relevant to the people, places and
businesses they follow, subscribe to
or “like.”
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times
in advance of the roll-out, one
expert says it’s no secret why
Facebook is making changes. The
News Feed is why people log-on to
the site, says Wedbush Securities
analyst Michael Pachter, ad any
changes that will engage more
people there means more money
from and for advertisers.
“Allowing feed customization
provides Facebook with more
information about what users
find relevant, allowing better
targeting for advertisers. Better
targeting means higher revenue
per impression or click-through,
and translates to overall higher
revenue and profits for
Facebook,” says Pachter.
During a conference call with
analysts earlier this year, Mr.
Zuckerberg also stressed the
importance of the News Feed.
“Advertisers want really rich
things like big pictures or videos,
and we haven’t provided those
things historically. But one of
the things that we’ve done in
the last year, as you’ve seen,
the organic News Feed product
that consumers use are moving
toward bigger pictures, richer
media, and I think you will
continue to see it go in that
direction,” he said in January.
Zuckerberg added then that he
wanted the future News Feed to be
capable of displaying “more
engaging ads” before users. “Have
you ever met a real person who
has said ‘I’d really like to engage
with an ad right now’? Me
neither,” says The Telegraph’s
technology editor, Shane
Richmond. “Still, we shouldn’t
forget that ads are what keeps
Facebook free and, more
importantly, in existence, so if
you want to use it then you
have to accept that Facebook
needs to please advertisers just
as much, perhaps more, than it
needs to please you.”
Previously, the website has insisted
that it does not significantly tinker
with News Feed configurations to
interrupt those posts with
sponsored content. “Our goal with
News Feed is always to show
each individual the most
relevant blend of stories that
maximizes engagement and
interest. There have been recent
claims suggesting that our News
Feed algorithm suppresses
organic distribution of posts in
favor of paid posts in order to
increase our revenue. This is not
true,” the company said.