Facebook tests split News Feed that keeps friends front and center

Joanna Estrada
October 24, 2017

The test, according to The Guardian, is now being carried out in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

Facebook is testing a change that could have dramatic effects on media organizations and other businesses that use its network to distribute their stories and other information.

The new system kicks nearly all non-promoted content to a secondary feed and replaces it with posts from friends and sponsored ads.

In six countries, Facebook has removed all posts published on Facebook Pages from its users' main News Feed and moved them to a separate and less prominent "Explore" section in its app. In Slovakia, where the test is now active, companies operating Pages are already "seeing dramatic drops in organic reach", according to Struhárik.

The exception is promoted posts, which brands buy to make sure their content shows up in people's feeds.

On Monday, Facebook acknowledged it was testing a version of the social network overseas where publishers' articles appear in a river of content separate from the main News Feed, which would be reserved for messages by family and friends. "The reach of several Facebook Pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days".

The changes are now being tested in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka, according to Filip Struhárik, a journalist at Slovakian news outlet Dennik N. The alternative version of Facebook shows non-promoted posts in a secondary feed, while Facebook's primary feed prioritizes content from user's friends and advertisements.

"With all of the possible stories in each person's feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful", a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

The feed, which has already been active on mobile devices, sources items it thinks users might like based on things they've previously Liked or posts that are popular among friends. "We have no current plans to roll this out globally". Facebook has said it wants to be more friendly toward publishers. For example, all of this is taking place in front of a broader backdrop Facebook is facing with its news feed - that Russian agents allegedly used it to spread misinformation during the 2016 USA election.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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