Alarge number of Americans are stepping back from Facebook in the wake of recent scandals over the social network’s handling of private user data, a study showed Wednesday.The Pew Research Center report found 42 percent of US Facebook users said they had “taken a break” from the platform in the past 12 months, and 26 percent said they had deleted the Facebook app from their phone.
Among those in the 18-29 age group, the break with Facebook appeared more pronounced, with 44 percent claiming to have deleted the Facebook mobile app.
Although the survey did not indicate how many users were quitting Facebook entirely, the findings suggest a clouded outlook for the company which has been roiled by news of the hijacking of private data by political firm Cambridge Analytica and concerns of foreign influence campaigns on the platform.
“Significant shares of Facebook users have taken steps in the past year to reframe their relationship with the social media platform,” researcher Andrew Perrin said in a blog post.
According to Pew’s survey, three-fourths of US Facebook users have taken some steps to change how they interact with Facebook, including more than half who have changed their privacy settings.
Perrin said the concerns about Facebook appeared to transcend political affiliation.
“The poll found that nearly identical shares of Democrats and Republicans (including political independents who lean toward either party) use Facebook,” he said.
“Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.”
The report was based on a survey between May 29 and June 11 including 3,413 Facebook users aged 18 and older, with an estimated margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
The survey comes ahead of a congressional hearing on foreign influence campaigns on social media, at which Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was to testify.
And it comes with President Donald Trump stepping up his attacks on internet platforms with his unverified contention that they are suppressing conservatives and Republicans.
Facebook has already lost ground in the United States among teens and young adult users, losing ground notably to Snapchat, but with some switching to Facebook-owned Instagram.
But Facebook remains the world’s largest social network with well over two billion users worldwide.
Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s compensation rose 53.5 percent to $8.9 million in 2017, a regulatory filing showed on Friday, largely due to higher costs related to the 33-year old billionaire’s personal security.
About 83 percent of the compensation represented security-related expenses, while most of the rest were tied to Zuckerberg’s personal use of private aircraft.
Zuckerberg spent much of last year travelling after he pledged to visit all the U.S. states that he had not previously been to.
His security expenses climbed to $7.3 million in 2017 from $4.9 million a year earlier.
Menlo Park, California-based Facebook paid to buy, install and maintain security measures for Zuckerberg’s personal residences, which include properties in San Francisco and Palo Alto, the filing showed.
The Facebook board’s compensation committee authorised Zuckerberg’s security programme, the filing said, “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as our founder, Chairman, and CEO.”
Zuckerberg’s base salary was unchanged at $1, while his total voting power at Facebook rose marginally to 59.9 percent.
Facebook, which has consistently reported stronger-than-expected earnings over the past two years, has faced public outcry over its role in Russia’s alleged influence over the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Earlier this week, Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed after facing hours of questioning from U.S. lawmakers on how the personal information of several million Facebook users might have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. (Reuters)
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Photo: AFP
Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg offered apologies to US lawmakers Tuesday as he made a long-awaited appearance in a congressional hearing on the hijacking of personal data on millions of users.
Reading from his written testimony, Zuckerberg repeated a statement he had previously made, saying the misuse of data “was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”
“It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right,” Zuckerberg told a Senate hearing.
Zuckerberg was making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, seeking to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to a British firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The scandal has sparked fresh calls for regulation of social media platforms, and Facebook in the past week has sought to stem criticism by endorsing at least one legislative proposal, which would require better labelling and disclosure on political advertising.
Senator Charles Grassley, chair of one of the committees holding the hearing, said the scandal involving the British firm Cambridge Analytica “was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data.”
The revelation on data mishandling “has exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used and misused,” Grassley said.
He added that the Judiciary Committee “will hold a separate hearing exploring Cambridge and other data privacy issues.”
More than a million British Facebook users could have had their personal data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, the company revealed on Wednesday, as it increased its estimates of the total number of users affected from 50 to 87 million.
Mark Zuckerberg, the embattled chief executive of Facebook, refused to rule out legal action against the British company and insisted that he remained the best man to lead the tech firm, flatly denying that he had been asked to resign.
In a rare teleconference with reporters, Mr Zuckerberg, 33, sidestepped questions as to why he had declined to appear before a committee of British MPs, pointing out that earlier in the day it was confirmed that he will testify before US politicians.
He said he would from now send his executives, including Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer, to answer internationally on his behalf.
“We announced today that I am going to be testifying in the US Congress, and I am going to be sending Schroepfer or another of our top folks to answer additional questions from countries in other places,” he said.
The entrepreneur struck an upbeat tone at times, saying he was proud of Facebook’s work in “bringing billions of people together” and defending the company from accusations of selling data to advertisers.
At other moments he was apologetic, admitting that Facebook had not done enough to protect its users and admitting that, with hindsight, he would have acted to prevent the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring what are the best things to do, moving forward,” he said. “I think the reality of a lot of this is that when you are building something like Facebook, that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things you will mess up. I think what people should hold us accountable for is learning from our mistakes.”
The people affected had their data incorrectly passed to the British election consultants several years ago after fewer than 200,000 Facebook users downloaded a quiz app in 2013 that harvested data about their friends.
Facebook told The Telegraph that 81.2 percent of total affected people were in the US, while 1.2 percent – or 1,079,000 people – were in the UK.
Facebook is now accused of failing to ensure that Cambridge Analytica deleted the data after ordering it to do so in 2015. The British company allegedly used the information to boost Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Technology bosses rarely appear in front of Washington hearings in person and have been criticised by US politicians for sending their top lawyers instead. Mr Zuckerberg has often left Washington manoeuvring to his chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has represented Facebook at previous political summits, and his appearance next week will be a first in front of US politicians.
Mr Zuckerberg may also face US senators in a separate hearing next week, although this is yet to be confirmed.
The committee’s Republican chairman Greg Walden and its ranking Democrat member Frank Pallone Jr said the hearing “will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online”.
They added: “We appreciate Mr Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions.”
Mr Zuckerberg’s willingness to appear in Washington jars with his current reluctance to face British MPs, who have twice demanded he appear in front of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.
Last week, the committee chairman Damian Collins said it was “absolutely astonishing” that Mr Zuckerberg was not prepared to appear in person.
This week, Facebook said it had deleted hundreds of pages and accounts linked to a Russian “troll factory” accused of posting fake news and political posts during the 2016 US presidential election, in a further attempt to regain its reputation.
Mr Zuckerberg said the agency “has repeatedly acted to deceive people and manipulate people around the world, and we don’t want them on Facebook”.
“Dumb f***s.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described users of Facebook for trusting him with their personal data back in 2004. If the last week is anything to go by, he was right.
Since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, it has become increasingly apparent that the social network has been far more lax with its data sharing practices than many users realised.
As the scandal unfurled over the last seven days, Facebook’s lacklustre response has highlighted a fundamental challenge for the company: how can it condemn the practice on which its business model depends?
“This is the story we have been waiting for so people will pay attention not just to Facebook but the entire surveillance economy,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.
Since Zuckerberg’s “dumb f*cks” comment, Facebook has gone to great lengths to convince members of the public that it’s all about “connecting people” and “building a global community”. This pseudo-uplifting marketing speak is much easier for employees and users to stomach than the mission of “guzzling personal data so we can micro-target you with advertising”.
Related: Billionaire Elon Musk Deletes SpaceX and Tesla Facebook Pages (Wochit Tech)
In the wake of the revelations that Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data collected by Dr Aleksandr Kogan under the guise of academic research, Facebook has scrambled to blame these rogue third parties for “platform abuse”. “The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” said the company in a statement on Tuesday.However, in highlighting the apparent deceit, the company has been forced to shine a light on its underlying business model and years of careless data sharing practices.
Sure, the data changed hands between the researcher and Cambridge Analytica in apparent violation of Kogan’s agreement with Facebook, but everything else was above board. The amount of data Cambridge Analytica got hold of and used to deliver targeted advertising based on personality types – including activities, interests, check-ins, location, photos, religion, politics, relationship details – was not unusual in the slightest. This was a feature, not a bug.
‘Extremely friendly to app developers’
There are thousands of other developers, including the makers of dating app Tinder, games such as FarmVille as well as consultants to Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, who slurped huge quantities of data about users and their friends – all thanks to Facebook’s overly permissive “Graph API”, the interface through which third parties could interact with Facebook’s platform.
Facebook opened up in order to attract app developers to join Facebook’s ecosystem at a time when the company was playing catch-up in shifting its business from desktops to people’s smartphones. It was a symbiotic relationship that was critical to Facebook’s growth.
“They wanted to push as much of the conversation, ad revenue and digital activity as possible and made it extremely friendly to app developers,” said Jeff Hauser, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Now they are complaining that the developers abused them. They wanted that. They were encouraging it. They may now regret it but they knowingly unleashed the forces that have led to this lack of trust and loss of privacy.”
The terms were updated in April 2014 to restrict the data new developers could get hold of, including to people’s friends’ data, but only after four years of access to the Facebook firehose. Companies that plugged in before April 2015 had another year before access was restricted.
“There are all sorts of companies that are in possession of terabytes of information from before 2015,” said Jeff Hauser of the Center for Economic Policy and Research. “Facebook’s practices don’t bear up to close, informed scrutiny nearly as well as they look from the 30,000ft view, which is how people had been viewing Facebook previously.”
For too long consumers have thought about privacy on Facebook in terms of whether their ex-boyfriends or bosses could see their photos. However, as we fiddle around with our profile privacy settings, the real intrusions have been taking place elsewhere.
“In this sense, Facebook’s ‘privacy settings’ are a grand illusion. Control over post-sharing – people we share – should really be called ‘publicity settings’,” explains Jonathan Albright, the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “Likewise, control over passive sharing – the information people [including third-party apps] can take info from us – should be called ‘privacy settings’.”
Essentially Facebook gives us privacy “busywork” to make us think we have control while making it very difficult to truly lock down our accounts.
‘The biggest issue I’ve ever seen’
Facebook is dealing with a PR minefield. The more it talks about its advertising practices, the more people join the #DeleteFacebook movement. Even the co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, who profited from Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of his app, this week said he was deleting his account.
“This is the biggest issue I’ve ever seen any technology company face in my time,” said Roger McNamee, Zuckerberg’s former mentor.
“It’s not like tech hasn’t had a lot of scandals,” he said, mentioning the Theranos fraud and MiniScribe packing actual bricks into boxes instead of hard drives. “But no one else has played a role in undermining democracy or the persecution of monitories before. This is a whole new ball game in the tech world and it’s really, really horrible.”
Facebook first discovered that Kogan had shared data with Cambridge Analytica when a Guardian journalist contacted the company about it at the end of 2015. It asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data and revoked the Kogan’s apps’ API access. However, Facebook relied on Cambridge Analytica’s word that they had done so.
When the Observer contacted Facebook last week with testimony from a whistleblower stating that Cambridge Analytica had not deleted the data, Facebook’s reaction was to try to get ahead of the story by publishing its own disclosure late on Friday and threatening to sue to prevent publication of its bombshell discoveries.
Then followed five days of virtual silence from the company, as the chorus of calls from critics grew louder, and further details of Facebook’s business dealings emerged.
A second whistleblower, the former Facebook manager Sandy Parakilas, revealed that he found Facebook’s lack of control over the data given to outside developers “utterly horrifying”. He told the Guardian that he had warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach but was discouraged from investigating further.
At around the same time, it emerged that the co-director of the company that harvested the Facebook data before passing it to Cambridge Analytic is a current employee at Facebook. Joseph Chancellor worked alongside Aleksandr Kogan at Global Science Research, which exfiltrated the data using a personality app under the guise of academic research.
Demand for answers
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic called for answers. In the US, the Democratic senator Mark Warner called for regulation, describing the online political advertising market as the “wild west”.
“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.
The Federal Trade Commission plans to examine whether the social networking site violated a 2011 agreement with the agency over data privacy over its data-sharing practices.
In the UK, MPs summoned Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to give evidence to a select committee investigating fake news.
“I think they are in a very bad situation because they have long benefitted from the tech illiteracy of the political community,” said Hauser.
The backlash spooked investors, wiping almost $50bn off the valuation of the company in two days, although the stock has since rallied slightly.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg finally broke his silence in a Facebook post acknowledging that the policies that allowed the misuse of data were a “breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, added her own comment: “We know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”
The company will investigate apps that had access to “large amounts of information” before the 2014 changes and audit thousands of apps that show “suspicious activity”. The company will also inform those whose data was “misused”, including people who were directly affected by the Kogan data operation.
These actions don’t go far enough, said Vaidhyanathan.
“Facebook has a history of putting on that innocent little boy voice: ‘Oh I didn’t know that I shouldn’t hold the cat by its tail’,” he said. “I think we’re tired of it at this point.”
These problems were pointed out by scholars years ago, said Robyn Caplan, a researcher at Data & Society, but Facebook’s response was slow and insufficient.
“They have been trying to put out a lot of little fires but we need them to build a fire department,” she said. (The Guardian)
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed Wednesday to “step up” to fix problems at the social media giant, as it fights a snowballing scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of its users.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg said, in his first public comments on the harvesting of Facebook user data by a British firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Writing on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg announced new steps to rein in the leakage of data to outside developers and third-party apps, while giving users more control over their information through a special toolbar.
Zuckerberg said measures had been in place since 2014 to prevent precisely the sort of abuse revealed at the weekend.
“But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it,” he said.
The scandal erupted when a whistleblower revealed that British data consultant Cambridge Analytica (CA) had created psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app, created by a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan.
The app was downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up their friends’ data without consent — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.
Facebook says it discovered last week that CA may not have deleted the data as it certified.
“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”
“We need to fix that.”
– Probe by special counsel? –
Zuckerberg’s admission follows another day of damaging accusations against the world’s biggest social network as calls mounted for investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Max Schrems, a Vienna-based activist who has brought online data protection cases before European courts, told AFP he complained to the Irish Data Protection Authority in 2011 about the controversial data harvesting methods.
Schrems also recounted a seven-hour meeting with Facebook representatives the following year to discuss concerns around apps operating in this fashion but said they said they saw no problems with their policies.
“They explicitly said that in their view, by using the platform you consent to a situation where other people can install an app and gather your data,” Schrems said.
ABC News reported meanwhile special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, was looking at Cambridge Analytica’s role in the Trump effort.
Citing anonymous sources, ABC said several digital experts who worked on Trump’s campaign have held closed-door interviews with Mueller’s team.
The British firm has maintained it did not use Facebook data in the Trump campaign, but its now-suspended CEO boasted in secret recordings that his company was deeply involved in the race.
– #DeleteFacebook –
The data scandal has ratcheted up the pressure on Facebook — already under fire for allowing fake news to proliferate on its platform during the US presidential election.
A movement to quit the social network gathered momentum, while a handful of lawsuits emerged which could turn into class actions — in a costly distraction for the company.
One of those calling it quits was a high-profile co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service acquired by Facebook in 2014.
“It is time. #deletefacebook,” Brian Acton said in a tweet protesting the social media giant’s handling of the crisis.
Both Facebook and CA have denied wrongdoing, as attention focused increasingly on Kogan, the inventor of the controversial app — personality survey dubbed This Is Your Digital Life.
But Kogan said in an interview he was “stunned” by the allegations against him, claiming CA had assured him his activities were above board.
“I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” he told the BBC. “We thought we were acting perfectly appropriately. ”
The University of Cambridge psychologist said CA had approached him to do the work, and that he did not know how the firm would use the data collected with his app.
European Union officials have called for an urgent investigation while British, US and EU lawmakers have asked Zuckerberg to give evidence.
Responding to Zuckerberg’s comments Wednesday, US Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts was the latest lawmaker to call on Zuckerberg to appear.
“You need to come to Congress and testify to this under oath,” Markey tweeted.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged Facebook and CA to cooperate with the national information commissioner’s probe.
“The allegations are clearly very concerning,” she told MPs.
“People need to have confidence in how their personal data is being used.”
Facebook shares steadied Wednesday, gaining 0.74 percent after steep declines this week that wiped out some $50 billion in market value.
But questions abounded on the future of Facebook, which has grown from a startup in a Harvard dorm room to become one of the world’s most powerful companies.
Analyst Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research said Facebook “is exhibiting signs of systemic mismanagement,” possibly from growing too fast.
“Investors now have to consider whether or not the company will conclude that it has grown in a manner that has proven to be untenable,” Wieser said in a research note.
The letter comes after claims Cambridge Analytica used data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles ahead of the 2016 US election.
Channel 4 News then aired footage last night which appeared to show Alexander Nix, the British firm’s chief executive, telling an undercover reporter they could dirt could be dug up on political opponents.
He also appeared to suggest he could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house”, adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.”
A Cambridge Analytica spokesman told Channel Four News: “We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called “honey-traps” for any purpose whatsoever…”
They added: “Cambridge Analytica does not use the untrue material for any purpose.”
The Information Commissioner watchdog is investigating whether Facebook did enough to protect data over the claims about 50million profiles.
Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she was seeking a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica as part of her inquiries.
Cambridge Analytica has denied all the media claims and said it deleted the data after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.
“We are not alone in using data from social media sites to extract user information,” a statement by the firm to Reuters said.
“No Facebook data was used by our data science team in the 2016 presidential campaign.” (Mirror)
It’s official: Facebook is for old(er) people. Teens and young adults are ditching Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as popularity among the over-55s surges, according to a report.
In 2018, 2.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds and 4.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds will regularly use Facebook in the UK, 700,000 fewer than in 2017, as younger users defect to services such as Snapchat, according to eMarketer.
A surge in older users means over-55s will become the second-biggest demographic of Facebook users this year.
The report says that while Facebook has so far been successful in keeping hold of younger users shifting to services such as Instagram, which it bought in 2012 for $1bn, defectors are now increasingly heading to upstart Snapchat.
“Facebook has a teen problem,” says Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer. “This latest forecast indicates that it is more than just a theory. Until now it has been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram. However, leading the charge for younger audiences is Snapchat. There are now some early signs that younger social network users are being swayed by Snapchat.”
Fisher says that in the last three years Snapchat has more than doubled its take-up rate among UK users of social networking sites and apps to 43%.
The report reveals that as Facebook has grown older – the once spring chicken of the internet celebrated its 14th birthday earlier this month – so too has its user base, along with its popularity among older people.
The largest growth iwill be among older users, with 500,000 new over-55s expected to join Facebook this year. There will be 6.4 million 55- to 65-year-old-plus regular Facebook users this year, the biggest demographic save for 16- to 34-year-olds.
“There are a couple of factors at play here,” says Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere. “One is that older people tend to be late to the internet party, but adoption tends to find its way through the demographics eventually. And with Facebook’s video and photo experience it is a platform they want to be on to keep up with the social lives of their kids and grandchildren.”
Last month, Facebook announced a major overhaul of its news feed algorithm to prioritise what friends and family share, while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands.
Zuckerberg has pledged to spend this year “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent”.
Last month, Facebook revealed a $4.3bn profit for the final quarter of last year, a 61% year-on-year rise.
Zuckerberg said 2017 proved a “hard one” for the company, which faced issues including its role in disseminating fake news and concerns it was used as a platform for Russian meddling in the US elections.
Overall, Facebook remains the most popular social networking site in the UK by some distance with 32.6 million total regular users this year. Instagram’s user base will grow from 15.7 million to 18.4 million, Snapchat will surge from 14.8 million to 16.2 million while Twitter will grow from 12.4 million to 12.6 million.
Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to change the way Facebook operates people’s news feeds has cost him $3.3bn, with his personal net worth dropping by 4.4 per cent, it is believed.
After Facebook went public with the news feed change on Thursday, the website’s share value dropped by nearly four per cent before US markets opened on Friday.
By close of business on Friday Facebook shares were trading at $179.37, down more than 4.4 per cent on Thursday’s price of $187.77.
And Forbes has calculated that for Mr Zuckerberg, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook, this translated into a personal hit of 3.3bn – a 4.4 per cent fall in his personal fortune.
Mr Zuckerberg, 33, who started Facebook in 2004 aged 19, still owns a 17 per stake in the company, which went public in 2012.
He explained his reasons for changing the news feed algorithm in a Facebook post on Thursday, saying he wanted the website to prioritise posts from friends and family over businesses and brands.
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” he said. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
“Based on this … . 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.”
Some, however, have suggested that the change might also have been influenced by Facebook’s alleged desire to counteract what the company is believed to refer to as “context collapse”.
This is the phenomenon where people stop sharing as much information about their personal lives on Facebook, yielding less useful data for the advertisers on whom Facebook relies to make its money.
Tweaking the news feed to encourage people to talk about their personal lives might, therefore, be seen as a means of increasing Facebook’s commercial value.
The markets, though, appear to have reacted badly to the news feed change, at least in the short term.
Facebook is to change how its news feed works, making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent.
Instead, content that sparks conversations among family and friends who use the site will be emphasised, explained chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on his page.
Organisations on Facebook may see the popularity of their posts decrease as a result, the firm acknowledged.
The changes will take effect over the coming weeks.
“We’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” wrote Mr Zuckerberg.
He said that he and his team felt a responsibility to make sure Facebook was good for people’s wellbeing.
If public content is to be promoted, it will now have to be seen to encourage community interaction – as happens within the tight-knit groups that discuss TV programmes and sports, he said.
Another example given by Facebook in a separate post was live video feeds, which tend to generate much discussion.
“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” added Mr Zuckerberg.
“But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”
In a previous post, Mr Zuckerberg had vowed to “fix” Facebook in 2018, saying he wanted to ensure that users were protected from abuse and that time spent on the site would be time well spent.
He also pledged to defend Facebook from nation states.
Analysis has recently suggested that some actors, including Russia, have tried to manipulate content on the social network.
“It’s definitely a significant change,” said Laura Hazard Owen at Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab.
“It’s going to affect publishers a lot, we’re going to be seeing a lot less news organically pop up in our news feeds.”
Ms Owen added, however, that Facebook had not been very clear about what sort of discussions the site’s revamped algorithms would prioritise.
It might end up being “the most controversial stuff” that generates heated conversations, she suggested, or simply content pulled in from group pages where users engage with others on specific topics.
Given recent public scrutiny, the social network was currently “in the hot seat”, said Gabriel Kahn from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
“Facebook is in the midst of all of these fires it’s trying to put out, it’s trying to reassert its warm and fuzzy brand value that it has always tried to put forth,” he told the BBC.
Mr Kahn added the update from Mr Zuckerberg was a “clear admission” that Facebook wielded significant power over the health of society.
However, he argued that the new priorities could further distort views and the nature of conversations.
“There should be public debate about the values they’re applying to that algorithm,” he said. (The Sun)