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Facebook rips up the News Feed

January 11 · Issue #61 · View online
The Interface
Today’s top story: Facebook is rewriting the rules of the News Feed, and nobody can say for certain how it’s going to play out. Late in the day, the company posted a torrent of blog posts — here’s the News Feed FYI from Adam Mosseri, and commentary from Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Cox — laying out. The gist: the News Feed will be rebalanced in favor of “meaningful” interactions, focused on friends and family. 
From my story in The Verge:
“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post. Zuckerberg said that the vast increase in posts from publishers, both article links and video, had tilted the News Feed experience to something more passive and less satisfying. The changes announced Thursday are designed to favor posts that spur conversations.
“We will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed,” Adam Mosseri, whose title is head of News Feed, said in a blog post. “These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to — whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”
As I note in my post, this isn’t the first time Facebook has made an announcement like this.
 In 2016, the company announced it would favor posts shared by people you know over those shared by pages owned by publishers and other businesses. In 2015, it introduced changes that also reduced the reach of pages in favor of friends and family.
The changes have been real, and the share of publisher traffic generated by Facebook has declined over time, according to publishers I’ve spoken with. One way publishers have compensated for the decline has been to invest heavily in making videos — the much-derided “pivot to video” that is a joking obsession of Media Twitter. The reason is that until now, Facebook has tuned the News Feed to favor video in the feed over other types of content.
How consequential will this change be? It’s impossible to tell right now. Publishers are reacting with characteristic restraint; Digiday, which kinda-sorta broke this news earlier today, illustrated its article with Mark Zuckerberg’s face superimposed over a mushroom cloud.
Certainly, low-quality videos seem likely to fade into the background. Most articles will be shared less, and seen by fewer people. And in their place you’ll find — posts from groups? Requests for recommendations? Angry arguments among family members? 
It was just in October when Facebook announced that it would test a News Feed without the news. At the time, the company said it had no plans to roll the test out further
And yet it was just yesterday we learned that Facebook was testing a separate feed for local news in six American cities. And today that Facebook announced yet another change that, at least in theory, will result in people seeing less news.
This newsletter is already more than an hour late, and I want more time to consider the implications. But if the changes turn out to be as radical as Facebook suggested today, it could be a transformative year for the media. As I said on Twitter
So many publishers think they have audiences, when what they really have is traffic.
I think we’re about to find out who has an audience.

Google Plans to Vet YouTube Premium Video Content
'We're losing hope': Facebook tells publishers big change is coming to News Feed
Facebook, Google Have a Tough New Job in Germany: Content Cop
Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down?
States Push Back After Net Neutrality Repeal
'We're marching in the same direction': Facebook is emphasizing Groups, and publishers are following suit
Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens
Trump blocked me on Twitter. But for democracy's sake, we can't ban him.
Here’s a good thread on why the United States won’t be able to win the information war with Russia just by fixing Facebook’s ad platform:  
Tim Hwang
One common trope in discussions about online disinformation is that the strategy / techniques of advertising are coterminous with those of propaganda / information warfare (IW). While sharing historical ties (see: Bernays), I think treating them as the same conceptually is wrong.
And finally ...
Scott Rogowsky of HQ on His Favorite Things
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