Facebook Discontinues its News Feed Test
Facebook announced on Thursday that it is ending a months-long test in which its core news feed was split into two, one focused on showing people posts from their families and friends while the other showed posts from companies, celebrities, or media outlets.
Facebook’s news feed chief Adam Mosseri said in a blog post that the company is ending the test because of feedback it received from its users. Facebook was testing two separate news feeds in countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka.
“You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds,” Mosseri wrote. “In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”
Mosseri said that the company tested a separate news feed, dubbed the Explore Feed, based on feedback from users indicating they wanted to see more content from their family and friends in their news feeds. The Explore Feed was designed to show people postings from Facebook Pages—the public profiles for companies, celebrities, and brands—as opposed to people’s personal Facebook profiles.
The decision to not split the news feed into two follows a recent change Facebook made to the kind of content it shows users in their news feed. In January, the company said that the core news feed would show people more family-friendly postings like a friend’s baby pictures and less marketing content and news articles.
The goal was to spur people to comment, like, and engage with other people on the network, and create what CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes as, “meaningful social interactions.”
Left unsaid was that by de-emphasizing news articles, Facebook wouldn’t have to deal with some of the same editorial decisions news organizations make each day, like deciding whether to show people graphic photos of news-worthy events.
Facebook has also been criticized for allowing fake and misleading news to spread on its service. One way Facebook appears to be dealing with the spread of fake news is to de-prioritize news in general, which would effectively weed out both fake and real news.
Mosseri acknowledged on Thursday that Facebook’s recent changes “mean less public content in News Feed like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
Additionally, Mosseri said that the related Explore Feed bookmark would also be eliminated. By clicking on it, people could previously see posts from Facebook Pages of businesses and public figures that they “hadn’t previously followed.”
However, Mosseri said that Facebook “concluded that Explore isn’t an effective way for people to discover new content on Facebook,” without citing specific reasons.