Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveils sweeping changes to News Feed

Facebook shares lower as it makes big changes to news feeds

Users can expect more changes to come.

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook is tweaking what people see to make their time on it more "meaningful" in a move that could hurt publishers and news organizations that rely on it to spread their content.

"Since there's more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do - help us connect with each other", Zuckerberg said. "Using "engagement-bait" to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed", noted Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed.

The Facebook CEO's latest announcement is nearly a total reversal from a deal he offered publishers in 2014, whereby they could host articles directly on its mobile app, giving them easy access to Facebook's 1.37 billion active users.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said the change was informed by research that shows the "well-being" of users is better served by connecting with friends and family than by "passively reading articles or watching videos".

In a post to Facebook Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was changing its focus from providing users with "relevant" content to that which drives social interaction. With different, less viral types of content surfacing more often, people could end up spending their time elsewhere. Over the next few weeks, users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies.

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These changes are made after Facebook was criticized for spreading fake news in 2016 USA election.

Another wave of criticism pummeling Facebook: that the company's products exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being.

News Feed is the centerpiece of the social network.

The company has been criticized for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in people's feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election, as well as political discourse in many countries.

The ultimate goal, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post, is to make people feel more positive about the time they spend on social media.

While the move was anticipated, Thursday's announcement filled in more of the details.

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Zuckerberg has been laying the groundwork for making that fundamental shift in all of Facebook's products.

"Just because a tool can be used for good and bad, that doesn't make the tool bad.it just means you need to understand what the negative is so that you can mitigate it", he said.

"And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people".

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote: "We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us".

Months before the company went public in 2012, Facebook started featuring "sponsored story" ads in users' feeds, and it rolled out mobile advertising that same year.

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