Social opinion: What is the future of News Feed?
Since the 2016 US election, Facebook has been receiving some unwanted attention. The backlash against the social media giant has come largely due to the influx of fake news articles and crime increasingly being captured on live video. It may not seem like much now, but what’s currently appearing in your News Feed will shape how Facebook will look in five years’ time.
News Feed originally started as a tool to help you sift through your hundreds of friends, so you would see updates based on importance. This gave us a customised home page – or what’s often referred to as a ‘filter bubble’. Eli Pariser, a digital activist, popularised the concept in his book called (funnily enough) The Filter Bubble. It means we only see things that are relevant to us, or come into contact with opinions that are similar to our own.
Mark Zuckerberg, in his “Building Global Community” manifesto, attempted to tackle this insulation by sharing his belief in the increasing importance of social infrastructure for community. Speaking to Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times:
“We’re getting to a point where the biggest opportunities I think in the world … problems like preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism, all these things, they require a level of coordination and connection that I don’t think can only be solved by the current systems that we have.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
The connection angle isn’t new – Facebook has always been a platform that connects people. But now it wants to shift its focus to protecting and informing us. One step that was taken at the end of last year was to put warning labels on viral stories to let users know the ‘facts’ contained in them were disputed by Facebook’s fact-checking partners. This infuriated right wing groups as they felt it was pandering to liberals. Facebook has since announced the Facebook Journalism Project, as well as another project aimed at promoting ‘news literacy’ in partnership with news companies.
Zuckerberg said in the New York Times interview that “common understanding” was a social goal that needs to exist and “misinformation” was a hindrance to that goal. What does all of this mean for News Feed? Will the platform become less personalised? Will right wing groups be forced to interact with content that doesn’t match their ideologies? We’ll have to tune in to find out.
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Learnings and recommendations
- Our Facebook News Feeds could look very different in a few years’ time as Mark Zuckerberg looks to move towards the verification of content based on authenticity. This could be a game changer for the way content is created, distributed and displayed across the platform, and although it may take a while to come into effect, it’s never too soon to start planning for it.
- If your brand makes a point of targeting ‘all Australians’ then make sure your campaign reflects it. Don’t whitewash your talent – this isn’t Hollywood.
Brought to you by the wonderful King Content Always-On social media team.
Divya Goski, Graham Boville, Kate Leonarder and Michael Waddups