In an effort to compete with TikTok, Facebook is implementing a new change to its feed that will make it prioritize recommended posts over content from accounts that users follow, according to an internal memo from April shared via The Verge.
The letter, which came from Meta executive and head of the Facebook app Tom Alison, details the social media giant’s goals to “make Reels successful,” “build world-class recommendations technology” and “unlock messaging-based sharing.”
Facebook also plans to name its feed “discovery engine feed” and reintegrate Messenger into the main platform, after separating it into two different apps in 2014.
Alison later detailed the meaning behind the feed name change, writing, “As we discussed our strategy throughout Q1 with Mark, different leaders across Meta, and teams within Facebook, the word ‘discovery’ came up over and over. Through these conversations, the term ‘discovery engine’ emerged as a helpful way to capture the evolution of modern social media products and frame our work to advance our strategy in 2022.”
Like Instagram, Facebook’s plan to morph into TikTok is not surprising. The platform has established dominance over its peers since its launch, and users are gravitating towards a video-based feed more and more as time goes by.
Through its newfound emphasis on Reels, Facebook hopes to lure back young people into its userbase, earn back investor trust and reverse the stagnant growth the app has faced of late.
Facebook was late to recognize the importance of Reels in its feed. Alison comments: “I think the thing we probably didn’t fully embrace or see is how social this format could be,” he says.
Alison put it bluntly to employees in a comment underneath his April memo: “The risk for us is that we dismiss this as being not valuable to people as a form of social communication and connection and we fail to evolve.”
Facebook plans to simulate the root of TikTok’s experience; guessing what you like based on your passive viewing habits. By removing the need to follow accounts before you see interesting videos, TikTok also leveled the playing field for creators, giving them a way to go viral overnight without a large following.
After the revamp, browsing through Facebook will be a more visual experience. The main tab will become a mix of Stories and Reels at the top, followed by posts its discovery engine recommends from across both Facebook and Instagram.
This is the first update since the last major overhaul of the Facebook feed experience in 2018, when Zuckerberg said the social network would prioritize “meaningful social interactions” between friends and family.
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