Facebook has updated its algorithm to seriously compete with TikTok

Here’s the plan: Instead of prioritizing posts from accounts that people follow, the main Facebook feed will start with lots of recommending posts to whoever posts them, along with lots of news.

Out of Snapchat’s competition, Stories was born. From one with TikTok i Reel. And what about the new WhatsApp features taken over from Telegram? Over time, Facebook/Meta has shown its ability to replicate the strengths of its main competitors to suit the preferences of users. However, what has been done so far is no longer enough, especially for Facebook. Sure, the platform still has billions per quarter and has 2.94 billion monthly users, but some cracks can be seen. In early 2022, Mark Zuckerberg’s platform burned $ 250 billion of its market capitalization on the stock exchange, due to declining revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the loss of nearly a million users.

To date, TikTok remains the most popular social network. According to Sensor Tower, the platform owned by Chinese private company ByteDance was downloaded 3.6 billion times last year. 20% and 21% higher number of downloads than Facebook and Instagram. Not only that: in the first three months of 2022, iPhone users spent an average of 78% more time on TikTok compared to Facebook.

After changing the name of “News Feed” to simple “Feed” and the introduction of Facebook Reels, Zuckerberg’s first social network is about to change its algorithm to look more like TikTok and more its traffic. This emerged from an internal memo sent in late April by Tom Alison, the Meta executive who manages Facebook. Here’s the plan: Instead of prioritizing posts from accounts that people follow, the main Facebook feed will start highly recommending posts to whoever posted them. It also plans to merge Messenger and Facebook into one app. In short, like TikTok. The goal is to take the reinterpretation of these features made by Instagram and bring it to Facebook, to appeal to young users and reverse stagnant growth.

Based on Alex Heath’s careful reporting of The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg seeks to create the “discovery engine”, the core concept of Meta. Heath spoke directly to Alison about the future of Facebook. The comparison reveals that the company has been slow to see the competition threat from TikTok, in part due to the initial growth of Facebook and Instagram from ads. But now, Meta sees the Chinese platform as a troublesome competitor, so it wants to take over some features, such as the centrality of private messaging and video viewing.

The Facebook app will be a combination of stories and reels at the top of the interface, followed by posts recommended by the Discovery engine on Facebook and Instagram. It will be a more visual and video -filled experience with quicker suggestions and messages to your friends. To make this feature more central, Facebook is working to position Messenger in the upper right of the screen, reversing the unpopular decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.

Instagram already has a head start on Facebook by showing Reel from unfollowed accounts or what Meta calls “unconnected” sources. Currently, approximately 11% of the content of the main Facebook feed is not connected. It’s not much, as posts continue to gain visibility based on peer features and not algorithmic AI.

Based on Heath’s conversations with Alison, Meta clearly knows that in order to truly compete with TikTok, it needs to copy the magical experience on the “For You” main page. This means eliminating the need to follow an account to see interesting videos and increasing the viral potential of the content without having to have a large audience. This is what made TikTok so popular.

“Stories are the most popular way to connect with friends,” says Alison, referring to the format that Facebook and Instagram have taken from Snapchat. The combination of Stories, Direct Message and the Reel will return Facebook to its core mission: connecting with friends and family. Alison instructed her teams to encourage users to message each other on the reels visible on Facebook rather than send them through third-party apps. “What we’re really seeing is that people want to connect through content,” the Meta exec said. Therefore, Facebook will try to bring better content that will truly satisfy the interests of the individual user and simplify sharing, chatting and interaction within the app.

“Discovery engine”, “back to the origins of Facebook”, “connecting people with content”. A series of concepts aimed at Mark Zuckerberg to convince investors to continue to fund his simultaneous vision of the metaverse and virtual reality (VR) on social networks. Alison sees them as basic steps in keeping Facebook in the days before it’s all too late. Also because its users are getting older, so it is necessary to reverse the trend.

However, not all employees are as convinced of the new path being taken. They wondered how a place for random AI -provided videos would be in line with Facebook’s original mission involving photos of children and holiday updates. “I think there is a real danger in this approach, because we have forgotten our basic diversity (the social graph and human choice) in favor of short -term interests and tendencies,” one employee wrote. on Facebook in an internal response to Alison’s note. . TikTok seems to make users realize they’re not spending quality time, which is detrimental to long -term growth, according to a product manager.

However, Facebook users have changed. In the latest Meta revenue call, Zuckerberg said half of the time people spend on Facebook is on video. In her note, Alison wrote that people “always open our app with no clear intent” but “investing in our discovery engine can improve people’s ability to connect.”

Within Facebook, Alison’s groups are working on a project codenamed “Mr. T”, which allows users to access a chronological version of their Feed followed by groups, pages and friends they follow. However, pushing the discovery engine will put more pressure on the decisions Meta makes to amplify some messages than others.

As for groups, they will remain an integral part of Facebook. In that regard, management teams are working on a redesign that moves groups, or what employees now call “Communities,” into an accessible panel to the left of the stream, similar to Discord, a platform where users can communicate by voice. calls. , video calls, text messages and private chat files or common “server” calls.

Creating doubts is the greater influence of the algorithm on the content. The algorithm that previously influenced Trump supporters ’attacks on the Capitol in 2021, spread fake news and failed to identify the inside of the propaganda. As a result, Facebook’s desire to be more like TikTok is an accusation of what News Feed used to be, according to Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble who is now involved in an initiative to make social media unprofitable. . Pariser argues that the News Feed is not a safe place to share his life. “People [ora] they think about that and move those conversations to places they feel more comfortable, ”like private messaging, he explains.

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