Meta Rethinks the Philosophy of the Facebook Feed
Understanding if algorithms enhance our personal relationships
The Facebook app, the blockbuster that powers the company we now call Meta, has been spending time in the juggernaut infirmary. While Feed is still the company’s most popular product, its user base has stopped growing, in stark contrast to that of its fierce new competitor, TikTok. In response, Meta’s leaders in July tweaked Facebook’s iconic home page. An earlier leaked memo revealed that their intent was to transform Feed from a list of posts mostly from friends into a “discovery engine” of “unconnected content” that can come from anywhere—much like the addictive feed at the heart of TikTok.
Yesterday, Facebook announced further changes to its flagship Blue App that seem like a way for Facebook to hone its discovery engine’s algorithms. Users will be able to tell Facebook if they want to see more or less of certain kinds of posts. The feedback will temporarily boost or suppress the ranking score for that kind of post. A second customization option can be used to specify how much you’d like to see posts from, respectively, friends and family, groups and public figures. This feature is accessible from a page called Feed Preferences, which is only a moderate challenge to locate.
As a longtime follower of the evolution of the feed—from the moment that Zuckerberg outlined its possibilities in his private notebook—I was curious about this shift in philosophy, one that will affect content still viewed by 3 billion people. I connected with Tom Alison, a 12-year veteran at the company who is head of Facebook. (He spent the first part of his tenure on the growth team, working on the notorious People You May Know feature.) The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.