Facebook Unfriends News, and it’s a Shame

I had to smile when I read that Facebook’s reducing news content in the newsfeed. Mark Zuckerberg wrote on their blog “our time is better spent bringing people closer together… public content… is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

In other words, pardon the interruption as we’ve tried to crack this news nut.  NVM, JK. You can now go back to your selfies and vacation pics.

I don’t think it is the final word.  If anything is constant with the feed it is constant change; and the flood of buzz, news and speculation that follow every tick (indeed, there were two more news-related announcements since).

But it is a good time to take stock; as Facebook has come full circle in less than two years; from when they were accused of liberal newsfeed bias in May 2016 to their machinations to make news safe, to Facebook’s “no mas” moment a couple of weeks ago.

Frankly, I’m exhausted as they took us on a wild ride.  Just recall the headlines:

Look, I get it, Facebook is a business.  They can do what they want. And I know that this news stuff is hard. How can you possibly select stories that are proven to be true and free of bias? It gets to thorny questions about news – how to even define what it is, vs. opinion, hype, trivial info and outright B.S.  Many others are struggling with the challenge, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight.

But I think it is sad as their move implies that news is not so important or worth pursuing.

When you are a destination where 2B people around the world spend time and get info, it’s an awesome responsibility.  My advice to Facebook is that moving fast and breaking things just may not be the best way. Slow down. Take a few breaths. Don’t take away news or stop trying to tame it because it is hard.

And to brands and publishers who get freaked out by every newsfeed tweak:  you need to spread your bets and develop other sources of traffic (see Josh Constine’s piece in TechCrunch).  Build your own audience.  Craft content and write news that appeal to people, not algorithms.

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